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Düsseldorf returns a valuable painting by Franz Marc

Düsseldorf returns a valuable painting by Franz Marc 

Relief among descendants, praise from Jewish organisations: Düsseldorf returns a valuable painting as looted art. But at the same time, a new debate on restitution has been opened. 

The decision of the Düsseldorf city council to return an important painting by Franz Marc after a years-long dispute over looted artworks has earned the city much praise. 

The descendants of former owner Kurt Grawi (1887-1944), who was persecuted by the National Socialists, reacted with relief and gratitude: ´´Our family is very grateful to live in a country where justice continues to be the guiding principle and which deals fairly and openly with its past, ´´ announced the descendants, who now live in Germany and Chile. 

The Düsseldorf city council had decided on Thursday to return Franz Marc´s expressionist work ´´The Foxes´´ to the heirs of the former owner Grawi. In doing so, the council followed a recommendation of the Advisory Commission for Looted Art, which is controversial in specialist circles. 

The descendants thanked the mayor of Düsseldorf, Stephan Keller (CDU), and the head of the department of culture, Hans-Georg Lohe, for keeping their word. 

The Cubist painting, estimated at at least 14 million euros, arrived in Düsseldorf in 1962 as a donation and is one of the major works of the Museum Kunstpalast. The return of the work had been the subject of controversial debate, as the painting had only been sold abroad after Grawi´s emigration. 

The advisory commission once again justified its recommendation: Grawi had been interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp after the November 1938 pogrom, stripped of his property and then forced into exile with ten Reichsmarks, according to the commission. In this situation, he had wanted to sell the painting, which had been taken abroad at considerable personal risk. 

As in the previous recommendations, the Commission assumes that ´´a legal transaction outside the Nazi sphere of power does not necessarily exclude the possibility of deprivation due to Nazi persecution´´. In the case of Grawi, too, the sale had been directly linked to Nazi persecution. 

Lawyers for the Grawi heirs called the commission´s recommendation ´´groundbreaking´´ for other similar cases in which victims of Nazism were forced to part with their property. The Commission sent a ´´clear signal´´. 

Düsseldorf (dpa)

© dpa-infocom, dpa:210429-99-407936/3

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