26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This book presents the story of 15 art collectors that had their property confiscated during WWII by high ranking German officials. Most probably assume that reparations have been made to all who had property taken; but the Allied governments concentrated on art stolen from museums. Families are still trying to acquire the works that were stolen from them.
Fifteen families are highlighted in this effort. The story of the attempts to retrieve their stolen family collections is described, from the acquisition; including their family history and what happened to them in WWII and since. Photos of the family, as well as the art and reproductions of relevant documents are shown.
The book is part picture and part story. All scenarios are well investigated and especially the solving of the mysteries as to what has happened to the works since the war
This is a mystery, a thriller, especially since many of this art was assumed to be destroyed during the war. A historical-legal commentary sums up the situation today: " it is still up to the claimants themselves to take the initiative, to undertake costly and time-intensive research, to conduct restitution negotiations that may drag on for years....".
This is a book that both those interested in art and the lingering consequences of WWII would find interesting.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
Immaculately researched, with exquisite photos, this readable volume focuses on the people who lives - and art - were stolen by the Nazis as well as continuing efforts to return looted art to families of pre WWII owners. It is a compelling account of atrocities and heartbreak, and most of all, the ongoing search for justice. Told with respect for the past, the book also presents clear-sighted consideration of modern-day art restitution issues. Nothing is superfluous, and each detail is carefully presented. The book is as intricate as the looted treasures it highlights, and the treatment by authors, editors and publisher is masterful.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2011
This is a wonderful book covering 15 separate stories involving people and places connected with Nazi-looted art. The authors, Melissa Mueller and Dr. Monica Tatzkow, are from Germany, and the first version of the book was published in Germany. This is a recent English version from Vendome Press, and it couldn't be more interesting, or the photos more beautiful, even haunting.
On the cover, the "Golden Adele" purchased for $135 million dollars by Ronald Lauder for his Neue Gallery in NYC of German and Austrian art. (Worth a stop when you're in New York!) At the time, the most paid for a single painting ever. This was part of a series of Gustav Klimt paintings recovered from Austria for the late Maria Altmann in Los Angeles, who was the heir to these treasures, stolen by the Nazis in WWII. Maria's attorney, Randolph Schoenberg of Los Angeles, in recovering her art from Austria, set an important precedent at the U.S. Supreme Court with this case. Interestingly, Mr. Schoenberg is the grandson or great-grandson of Arnold Schoenberg, renowned music composer, and visual artist. The several Klimts recovered by Mr. Schoenberg for Mrs. Altmann brought over $300 million at auction when they were sold after their recovery. In the world of fine art and Holocaust Era claims, the Altmann case set a major precedent, allowing a U.S. citizen to bring an action against a foreign sovereign gov't., as an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), here in the U.S. federal courts, for hording Nazi-looted art.
Also covered, the high profile Cassirer v. Kingdom of Spain case, where a family in California is trying to recover a priceless Impressionist masterpiece by Camille Pissarro, currently hanging at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid, Spain. (You can easily Google these cases, and read more about them -- fascinating.) The Cassirer's Pissarro was stolen by the Nazis from the Cassirer family in Germany in 1939, just before war broke out in Europe. Wonderful story, wonderful pictures. The Supreme Court in Washington recently ruled in favor of the Cassirer claim by denying review of a recent 9-2 "en banc" ruling at the Ninth Cir. Ct. of Appeals, allowing the case to finally proceed to trial at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Trial is currently scheduled for July 3, 2012. The Seattle-based law firm Davis Wright Tremaine represents the Cassirers in that case.
This is an unusually beautiful and well-written book, an oversized hardback with stunning cover art on the sleeve, and filled with wonderful photos of people, places and Nazi-looted art, something you could easily have as a conversation starter on your coffee table. Highly recommend.
David in Telluride
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
This is an extraordinary and poignant book that deals with the shocking plundering of valuable art in Nazi Germany. The book offers unprecedented insight and detail into the lives of the wealthy collectors, and the manner in which they were forced to liquidate their valuable artworks. Readers will be gripped by this well-written and meticulously researched account of the lives of the families caught up in the turmoil of 20th century history and it's aftermath, with court battles often requiring many decades of litigation to return the works to their rightful owners. Beautifully illustrated, this definitive work is a "must read" and a truly unforgettable book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2010
Great cooperation! Story teller Melissa Mueller (author of Anne Frank: The Biography) and the historian Monika Tatzkow (author of Nazi Looted Art) got together to create this beautiful book about distinguished art collectors like Rothschild, Mendelsohn and Bloch-Bauer during the Nazi years. Each of the 15 chapters deals with an individual Jewish art lover and the fate of their family and collection. Heartbreaking, gut wrenching and enthralling stories that do not just end in 1945. Family heirs still wage battle in court for these Klimts, Picasssos or Kandinskys to be returned to their rightful owners. Still, the authors manage to remain calm, dispassionate and factual and that in itself makes these stories of the plunder and the obstacles to setting things right even more haunting.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2011
Lost Lives, Lost Art
I picked it off the New Books shelf in the Library. I was initially attracted by the cover. It included the famous painting, Gustav Klimt's picture, "Woman in Gold".
Lost Lives, Lost Art; by Melissa Muller and Monika Tatzkow.
Now, there is something I know little about. I aspire to be a collector. It has been different things at different times. My endeavors have always been proscribed by the limits of my purse.
Lately my tastes have gotten more pricey. Ceramics and oriental rugs. Clearly I have progressed. Time to read about serious collectors.
Hence the book about "Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice."
Is this a cautionary tale?
The book details the experience of sixteen collecting Jewish families in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia.
The stories take on a painful similarity.
There is the initiating person, an artist or someone fascinated by art. Sometimes it is a couple.
They gather a collection brilliant enough to attract public attention. The collections often contain old masters, but most noticeably they begin to build on new styles. Impressionists, Cubists, beautiful wonderful new art.
Enter the Nazis. They denounce this "degenerate" art. However they lust after the collections.
There are a whole host of "co-conspirators", "friends", Art Appraisers, Art Dealers, Museum Directors. It becomes a feeding frenzy. It is the functioning of a Criminal State. Laws are passed that result in expropriation. The owners who can escape with their lives do so. Some wait too long, are too old to move and are ruthlessly sent to Concentration camps.
The Stories continue with the heirs attempts to recover the lost art of their Grandparents, Great Uncles, collections.
They are stone walled, forced into court, stymied in every way known to bureaucracy. Some of these stories continue to this day.
Their stories document what Germany and the World lost from WWII, not only the wonderful art but the wonderful people who appreciated and gathered it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2012
This is a lovely collection of art works that were tragicily stolen from people as they fled for their lives.
on April 20, 2015
I bought this book because I saw a movie and by reading about it I came across these two ladies who put the book together. I did a very good purchase. The stories are heart wrenching and I was moved to tears on the atrocities committed against prominent people who collected the most refined art and were stripped from everything they owed, mainly art, because it was so valuable. I hope more readers can see and learn about what happened, it is so shameful that humanity can become like this. There are some pieces recuperated but on the whole, it's almost all lost. Yet the hardest part is about knowing the lost lives, as they were such great people. Don't miss this opportunity and read a great piece in history.
on December 4, 2012
Jewish art collectors are featured here in loving detail. Their lives before the war, how they started collecting, what they collected, how it was stolen from them, and then tragically how difficult (and sometimes impossible) it has been for their heirs to get the pieces that are still intact returned to them or at least compensated for. The book is also very well illustrated with photos of the collectors and their homes, as well as some of the pieces in their collections.
A great read and at times a sad commentary on what the world lost in terms of culture and civilized behavior.
on December 31, 2013
Beautifully written and illustrated, poignant stories of extraordinary Jewish families and the spoliation and occasional long-delayed partial recovery of their estates. A paean to the Washington Convention of 1998 and a visceral condemnation of the ongoing mendacity of European administrations and their museums.
The foreword is by Ronald Lauder, not, as the amazon description says, Elie Wiesel. There is some missing text between pages 226 and 228, dunno how much.