Le musée disparu, enquête sur le pillage d’œuvres d’art en France par les nazis
Once they had occupied France, how did the Germans chose the art works they wanted to confiscate? Why did the works go through the Jeu de Paume? What role did the moving company Schenker play in their being sent to Germany? This update of a now classic study reviews a few exemplary cases such as those of the Rothschild or Bernheim Jeune collections, or the 333 works from the Schloss fund, and shows how certain art dealers, such as Paul Rosenberg, spent years, after the Liberation, trying to rebuild their patrimony, with limited success. It also shows another aspect of the great plundering: not everything ended up in the German safes. Gallery owners, active in countries beyond a suspicion of a doubt –such as Switzerland - made a very juicy profit through a very loose set of laws. Vermeer’s Astronomer, dear to Hitler, the Lion with a serpent by Delacroix, the Portrait of young girl by Cranach are but a few of the thousands of paintings that underwent this bleeding and whose history is hinted at throughout this investigation.
• Le musée disparu, enquête sur le pillage d’œuvres d’art en France par les nazis (English version: The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art, HarperCollins) by Hector Feliciano, Gallimard, 2009, 400 p., 32 €, ISBN : 978-2-07-076275.
Review published in the newsletter #139 - from 25 June 2009 to 1 July 2009