Marei Von Saher Announces Resolution Of Claim Against The Cummer Museum Of Art & Gardens Regarding Nazi-Looted Painting

June 26, 2014 – Press Release
Herrick, Feinstein LLP

Marei von Saher, the sole heir of the noted Jewish art dealer, Jacques Goudstikker, announced today that she and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens have amicably resolved her claim to a still life by Jacques Adolphz. de Claeuw in the Museum's collection that was stolen during World War II. 

Ms. von Saher identified the painting as one of the artworks that was looted by the Nazis from Jacques Goudstikker's gallery following the invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 and advised the Museum of her claim. After discussions with Ms. von Saher's attorneys, the Museum agreed to restitute the painting, but expressed a desire to have it remain in its collection. Because of the Museum's admirable decision to return the painting, Ms. von Saher, in turn, agreed to transfer it to the Museum through the combination of a partial purchase and a gift by Ms. von Saher in memory of Jacques Goudstikker.

Ms. von Saher said, "It is heartening to see museums like The Cummer do the right thing for Holocaust victims and their heirs. I am grateful to The Cummer for returning this painting to Jacques Goudstikker's family. We hope that the restitution of this work will lead other museums to act just as responsibly when faced with the discovery of Nazi-looted art in their collections."

Lawrence M. Kaye, an attorney at Herrick, Feinstein LLP who has represented the von Saher family for many years, stated, "The Cummer's response to Ms. von Saher's claim is an outstanding example of how these matters can and should be resolved. The Museum took the claim seriously, and that made it easier for the parties to work together to find an amicable resolution and keep this beautiful work of art in the Museum's collection."

Jacques Goudstikker fled the Netherlands on May 14, 1940, along with his wife, Dési, and their only son, Edo, when Nazi troops invaded. He had to leave behind his business and approximately 1,400 artworks, most of which, including the de Claeuw were meticulously recorded in a small black leather notebook that Jacques took with him.  The family escaped by sea, but Jacques tragically died in an accident while onboard the ship that was carrying them to safety. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring looted the Goudstikker gallery weeks later. After the War, many works from the Goudstikker collection were returned by the Allies to the Dutch authorities, but rather than restitute them to the family as the Allies had anticipated, the Dutch authorities retained them, over the family's protests, and incorporated them into the Dutch national collection. In 1998, Ms. von Saher began a protracted legal battle to win back those artworks.  In February 2006, the Dutch Government, based on the advice of its Restitutions Committee, resolved one of the largest outstanding claims to Nazi-looted art by restituting 200 works to Ms. von Saher. 

Many other looted artworks, like the de Claeuw painting, were dispersed during the War and not found afterwards. Working with a team of experts, Ms. von Saher has undertaken extensive efforts to recover these other missing works. Artworks looted from the Goudstikker collection have been located in institutions in more than a dozen countries, including several U.S. museums. As a result of Ms. von Saher's efforts, there have been dozens of voluntary restitutions by governments, museums, private collections, dealers and auction houses. More are expected. Mr. Kaye of Herrick, Feinstein LLP represented Ms. von Saher in the resolution of the claim to the de Claeuw.