SF Court Rules for Norton Simon Museum to Keep Nazi-Looted Paintings

"Adam" and "Eve" painted by German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder around 1530
"Adam" and "Eve" painted by German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder around 1530
(Wikimedia Commons)

In a long running case, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that a Southern California museum can keep a pair of prized 16th century paintings that an heiress of a Dutch art dealer has sought since the 1990s. The Renaissance paintings were looted by the Nazis during World War II, and the court determined that the dealer's family previously gave up the chance to restitute the artworks, thus the art was then legally purchased by the museum.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled for the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena to keep the life-sized masterpieces "Adam" and "Eve," painted about 1530 by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder. Heiress Marei von Saher sought the artworks that once belonged to her father-in-law, Jacques Goudstikker, a Jewish art collector. He perished after fleeing the Nazis in the Netherlands, leaving behind some 1,200 artworks.

In a forced sale, Nazi Hermann Göring took control of Goudstikker's company and collection in 1940. 

After the war, when the Dutch government offered to return Nazi loot, the family relinquished claims, due to financial reasons. In 1966, a Russian aristocrat bought the Cranach pair, and then sold them to the Norton Simon in 1971.

The Netherlands’ highest court found in 1999 that von Saher’s family “had consciously foregone their restoration rights” in the paintings, Judge M. Margaret McKeown said in the latest ruling.

“Second-guessing the Dutch government would violate our commitment to respect the finality of appropriate actions taken by foreign nations to facilitate the internal restitution of plundered art.”

More News Feed Headlines

Vija Celmins, Night Sky #16, 2000–01; collection SFMOMA, gift of Helen and Charles Schwab through The Art Supporting Foundation; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

Happy Holidays from ARTFIXdaily! Closed to January 7

  • December 16, 2018 20:02

Happy Holidays from ARTFIXdaily! We will be closed until January 7, 2019, and subscriber ...

Read More

Edward Cucuel (1875–1954), The Parasol, 1915, Oil on canvas.  Courtesy of The Hosek Collection of American Art

Over a Year After Hurricane Devastation, Houston's Pearl Fincher Museum Reopens With A Top-Tier Collection of American Art On View

  • December 13, 2018 16:10

In Houston, the 10-year-old Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts, which closed for renovation after ...

Read More

Researchers Discover Way to Fight The Bacteria That Ruins Paintings

  • December 12, 2018 12:17

Besides sunlight, heat, humidity and other factors, paintings face deterioration over time ...

Read More

Tiffany glass fragments

Neustadt Opens Up Its 250,000-Piece Tiffany Glass Archive For Tours

  • December 11, 2018 22:03

The public can now go on tours of the world's largest archive of glass remnants from Tiffany ...

Read More

Related Press Releases


ArtfixDaily Artwire