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Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice Hardcover – November 1, 2010
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About the Author
Melissa Müller wrote the bestselling Anne Frank: The Biography, and is coauthor with Traudl Junge of Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary, which was the basis for the film Downfall.
Monika Tatzkow, a historian, is coauthor of the restitution-case handbook Nazi Looted Art.
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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
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.
A great read and at times a sad commentary on what the world lost in terms of culture and civilized behavior.