Descendants of Jews who fled Nazi Germany want to return a Picasso painting sold by their ancestors

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Descendants of Jews who fled Nazi Germany want to return a Picasso painting sold by their ancestors

In 1938 year, fearing for their lives against the backdrop of increased persecution of Jews, Karl and Rosie Adler fled Germany to the then unoccupied & nbsp; part of Europe by the Nazis.

According to the BBC, they sold one of their valuables – painting by Pablo Picasso «Woman ironing»  1904 to pay for short stay visas. The painting later entered the collection of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York. Now the Adler heirs want the artwork back.

“Adler would not have lost the painting at that time and at this price if it were not for the Nazi persecution he and his family were subjected to,” – wrote the lawyers for the heirs in a lawsuit last week in a New York court.

Several Jewish organizations and non-profit organizations are also named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The Picasso painting cost $1500 at the time, now its price is $32 thousand

The painting was originally purchased from Heinrich Tannhauser in 1916, a Jewish gallery owner living in Munich at the time.

When the Adlers fled Germany, they sold the painting to Tannhauser's son, Justin, who had already left country to Paris for about $1,552 (that's $32,669 today).

This price, according to the lawsuit, was well below the market price: just six years ago, Adler offered painting for about $14,000 but decided not to sell it.

Shortly after purchasing the painting, Thanhouser insured it for $20,000.

After his death, Thanhouser left his extensive Solomon Guggenheim Museum art collection, including the Ironing Woman. . Prior to his death, as part of the museum's research process to confirm the painting's provenance, museum representatives approached Eric Adler, son of Carl and Rosa, the museum said in a statement to the BBC.

Mr. Adler “confirmed his father's ownership date and expressed no concerns about the painting or its sale to Justin Thanhouser,” and the museum has repeatedly acknowledged the elder Adler's former ownership, the statement said.

The painting is in the collection for today, and for decades, the question of ownership of the painting  Adler's descendants did not appeal until 2014. Then the grandson of one of the other Adler children, Carlota, learned this family story from the painting.

Note that Picasso created the work “Women with Ironing” at the end of the dark “blue period” caused by the death of his close friend Carlos Casagemas. At that time, he painted mostly monochrome paintings in shades of blue and green-blue with a rare addition of warm tones. These gloomy paintings are now one of the artist's most recognizable works, although by that time he had difficulty selling them.

For several years, lawyers for the Adler heirs and the Guggenheim argued over who actually owned the painting, culminating in this lawsuit.

The Guggenheim Museum told the BBC it “takes questions of provenance and restitution claims extremely seriously.” ;, but “they believe that this claim is unfounded.”

What to do with works of art sold or looted during Nazi Germany has long been a concern. Many Jews and others fleeing persecution were forced to sell assets, including valuable works of art, in order to escape. Others simply had their art stolen.

In 1998, 44 countries signed the Washington Principles on Nazi Confiscated Art, which states that “immediate action must be taken to reach a fair and just solution, recognizing that anything can vary depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.

However, “Woman Ironing Clothes” should not be considered a work of art confiscated by the Nazis, said the Guggenheims (the museum is named after Solomon Robert Guggenheim. This is an American patron of art of Jewish origin, a native of Switzerland, founder of the Museum of Modern Art in New York).

The cultural institute explains its position by the fact that the painting was not sold in Germany, but after the departure of the Adlers and it was sold to a collector of Jewish art , who is not a member of the Nazi Party, was noted in the museum.

Prepared by: Nina Petrovich

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