Saturday, December 4, 2021

Van Gogh artwork looted by Nazis to be auctioned in New York

NEW YORK (AP) – A watercolor of Vincent van Gogh confiscated by the Nazis during World War II will be sold at auction in New York next month, where it is expected to fetch a price of $20 million or more at the auction house. Christie announced.

Christie’s is auctioning off an 1888 work, “Wheatstacks,” after facilitating negotiations between the heirs of the Texas oilman, who now owns it, and the heirs of two Jewish art collectors who had lost their lives from being plundered by the Nazis. It was previously owned at different times. A Christie’s spokeswoman said the details of the agreement were confidential.

“Wheatstacks” was auctioned on November 11 by Edwin L., a Texas oilman. Cox, who died last year at the age of 99.

The work depicts three haystackers atop crop workers on a bright summer day.

It was bought in 1913 by industrialist Max Mirowski, who fled Germany for Amsterdam in 1938 fearing Nazi persecution.

Meirowsky entrusted “Wheatstacks” to a Paris-based art dealer, who sold it to Alexandrin de Rothschild, a member of the famous Jewish banking family.

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At the start of World War II Rothschild fled to Switzerland and his art collection, including Van Gogh watercolors, was confiscated by the Nazis during the occupation.

It is unclear where the artwork was between the end of the war and the 1970s, but Cox purchased it in 1979 at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York.

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Vice President of 20th and 21st Century Art at Christie’s, called the artwork one of Van Gogh’s most powerful works on paper to be displayed on the open market.

“Everything is breathtaking: the iconic subject, the perfect position of the gouache, the intensity of the ink in the trademark cross-hatching and twirls that define the landscape, the ambitious scale of the composition,” she said in a news release Thursday.

The watercolor will be on view at Christie’s in London from 17 October to 21 October, ahead of the auction, the first time it has been displayed publicly since 1905 Van Gogh at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

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