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Stockholm museum settles feud over art looted by Nazis

David Landes · 9 Sep 2009, 12:10

Published: 09 Sep 2009 12:10 GMT+02:00

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The work in question, ‘Blumengarten’ (the Flower Garden), was painted in 1917 by German expressionist Emil Nolde and was part of the private collection of Otto Nathan Deutsch, a Jewish businessman who fled to the Netherlands to escape persecution by the Nazis.

Since 2002, Deutsch’s heirs have been wrangling with the Moderna Museet, which acquired the painting in 1967 from a Swiss collector, in an attempt to reclaim the work.

According to the terms of a settlement, detailed in a joint statement issued by the museum and Deutsch family attorney David Rowland, the painting is to be bought by an unnamed European collector who will in turn loan the painting to the Moderna Museet for up to five years.

At that point, other expressionist paintings from the early 20th century will be lent to the museum for another five years.

“Both the Deutsch heirs and the Moderna Museet are satisfied with the outcome of the matter, which was settled under the principles of the 1998 Washington Conference, which calls for a fair and just solution taking all relevant circumstances into consideration,” said the joint statement.

The agreement brings to an end a lengthy and often acrimonious dispute over the fate of the painting and how both parties should be compensated for the work, which the museum claimed it acquired in a legal fashion and was unwilling to hand over without getting something in return.

The Moderna Museet’s demands prompted frustration on the part of Deutsch’s heirs.

“Sweden's failure to return the Blumengarten painting is an exception to the international norm that Nazi looted art in public museums should be returned without conditions to its rightful owners,” Rowland said in a statement in February 2008.

Story continues below…

While the German government compensated the Deutsch family in 1961 for Blumengarten and other works missing since Deutsch’s flight from the Nazis, the family contended that the money was not meant to correspond to the value of the painting, which Rowland had previously valued at $4 million, according to the Reuters news agency.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:43 September 9, 2009 by peropaco
Somehow the swedes seems unyielding in letting go of its dark chapter during WWll
13:04 September 9, 2009 by Kaethar
Oh, get over it.

The family was compensated. Moderna museet, however, which spent a lot of money to buy this painting, gets nothing? What kind of justice is that?
13:44 September 9, 2009 by hpunlimited
Once in the middle ages Scandinavian vikings plundered the English and Irish coast, I demand that all loot will be returned to the English monastaries and their decendants. Also, Russia plundered Karelen area of Finland from the Finish. Lets not not talk the English, French and Spanish, they plundered the land, art and more from the North American Indians, its time to return ALL their land to the Indians and deport the "whites".

What if the world was this way? What is in the Swedish Modern art Museum now belongs to Sweden, sorry!
13:44 September 9, 2009 by peropaco
The crooks at moderna museet knew they were buying stolen art which means they should be prosecuted for accessory to theft. But hey, we all know this is the swedish way of profiting at whatever cause.
14:20 September 9, 2009 by Leprehcaun
Wow.. the title of this article is wrong in such a way that it isn't ok. Emil Nolde wasn't a nazi.. which is what the headline says he was; "nazi art".

The headline should say "Stockholm museum settles feud over art looted by Nazis" or something like that, that's a big difference.
23:29 September 9, 2009 by kelvison
the painting is for the museum and thats the end of it. if the business man run a way without taking the belongings then he and his family can not claim any thing or perhaps he gave the painting to a nazi just not to be killed.the thing is we dont know the whole truth and we can not turn back time,so it must stay in the museum.jews just want every thing in full.they often forget they are living on the stolen land of innocent palestinians.
23:50 September 9, 2009 by lingonberrie
Fifty years from now those from AIPAC will still be making the same claims against museums around the world, and one hundred years from now they will still be making the same claims.

Lets concentrate on the Israeli Ghetto in the Gaza, and the murdered civilians in Lebanon and Gaza, specifcally the women and children. Those are murdering events of the near-term.

Soon, the great-grandkids of the AIPACers will be making claims that their birthright was stolen by Germany and they will be demanding billions in reparations after they learn that one of their own, Madoff, stole all of their money.
10:25 September 10, 2009 by ofdesign
First the Swedes support lies and racism in their press. Now they support breaking all international norms and laws to keep plundered art from a decimated people.

My God, what has happened to Sweden?
11:30 September 10, 2009 by engagebrain

Makes some pretty nasty comments, well in line with the Scandinavian history of trading/pillaging.

I hope he feels the same way next time he is mugged.

Bizarrely he argues that in running you cede property rites to anything left behind, does he really want to apply this idea to Palestine ?

Jews = Israelis is of course wrong and the theft of the painting occurred many years before Israel was created.

The museum should have a case against whomsoever they bought the painting from.
14:57 September 10, 2009 by joe90
having run away from people who i thought were going to kill me. i left my belongings .i know the reasons for running.

anyone who steals/ borrows / takes over / should return the land or the possesions to the original owner. or family. if the Family or individual can prove they owned it in the first place.and the people were removed or fled because of agression by another party.

the philistines own gaza not the Palestinans look at your history and the remnants of archelogy found in the Gaza strip . there never was a palestianians till after World War II and well after the Balfour Decleration. 2nd november 1917.

ownership is a state of mind the proud own property the wise are lent property
15:40 September 10, 2009 by Leprehcaun
@ joe90

The museum hasn't stolen, borrowed or taken over anything. They bought it and the guy who wants it has never owned it. If you feel that way anyway why not demand that the Israelis move out of Israel then?

Seriously if we're gonna be fighting over things that once was our ancestors the world would look pretty damn farcical if its 6.8 billion humans were going to fight for some cave in Congo.
23:07 September 13, 2009 by I Love it when ...
wow people today are just messed up
06:03 September 22, 2009 by Rmille2282
Another disgraceful episode of their renowned Swedish anti-semitism and insular mannerism. The Swedes have put aside all agreements of what is right and decent and lawful in order to fight to maintain ownership of stolen property. Stolen in the most horrible of circumstances.

The weak-spirited Swedes have a history of non-involvement in war, even in times of terrorism that affects all nations equally. Their legacy is again in the making, and they have proven to be weak-of-spine and more interested in defending their claim to stolen art than to fighting evil forces in the world.

Modern Museum of Stockholm, and the Swedish citizenry, is forever stained by their attempt to slap aside the rights of an owner of a painting that they knew they had no right to. I am so sick of the Swedes after this latest episode.
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