SAN FRANCISCO, June 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A significant pastel painting by Adolph Menzel, one of Germany's most famous 19th Century painters, has been auctioned in Berlin for 850,000 euro -- more than twice the estimated auction price -- marking the latest successful artwork recovered by the Mosse Art Restitution Project, an investigation and recovery effort run by the Investigative Unit of San Francisco law firm Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller.
The painting, "Emilie in Red Blouse," is a portrait of the artist's sister dating to 1850. It was sold to an unknown buyer on June 1. The painting was part of a collection of art originally owned by Jewish newspaper publisher Rudolf Mosse. The art collection was looted from the Mosse family by the Nazis in 1933. His sole heir, Erma Felicia Lachmann-Mosse and her husband, Hans Lachmann-Mosse, managed to flee Germany, first to France and later to the United States.
A second painting from the Mosse Collection, "Portrait of Appellation Council Stenglein," by Wilhelm Leibl, was sold at the same auction for 120,000 euro. A third painting, "Spring Storm" by Ludwig von Hoffmann, was withdrawn shortly before the auction and purchased by a benefactor for permanent loan to the Darmstadt Museum Mathildenhohe, where it had hung for 70 years until recently.
In 2012, Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller was approached by the Mosse Foundation to organize a search for the hundreds of artifacts from the Mosse Art Collection, which had been confiscated and then auctioned by the Nazis shortly after Adolf Hitler was named chancellor. The Mosse Collection was considered an important art collection in Germany at the time.
In 2014, after an intensive initial investigation that located enough items to warrant further investment, letters were sent to museums and universities in Germany and Switzerland that had been identified as having obtained items from the Mosse Art Collection. Until being notified, the curators were largely unaware that they were in possession of items confiscated by the Nazis. Many of the items have since been fully restituted.
The success of the effort to date stands in marked contrast to earlier attempts by Mosse heirs to locate items from the family art collection. J. Eric Bartko, who manages the Mosse Art Restitution Project and is the Director of Investigations at BZBM, believes this is in large part due to Germany's adoption of the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. Despite the pact being written as non-binding, Germany has chosen to bind its public institutions to these principles.
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