Swiss museum to sell Monet

Painting was sold “under duress” by Jewish art collector

DW June 22, 2024


One of the largest art museums in Switzerland is selling a painting by Claude Monet in order to pay back the family of the Jewish art collector who was forced to sell it during World War II. Monet painted “L’Homme à l’ombrelle” (“Man with a Parasol”) in the late 19th century.

The Kunsthaus Zürich acquired the painting from Carl Sachs, a Jewish entrepreneur who fled to Switzerland with his wife in 1939 to escape the Nazis. Sachs was forced to sell the painting and several others in order to make a living. He died shortly afterward in 1943. “A swift sale was needed to provide the couple with money to live on, and he was therefore acting under duress,” the Kunsthaus Zürich said in a statement on Wednesday.

Heirs welcome sale

The proceeds from the sale will be divided between the art gallery and Sachs’ descendants. Other Monet paintings have fetched tens of millions of dollars at auction. A lawyer for Sachs’ heirs, Imke Gielen, said the family welcomed the sale as “a just and fair solution for the work.”

The chair of Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, which oversees the museum, Philipp Hildebrand, has vowed to “act transparently... for any work in our collection where there are substantiated indications of duress resulting from Nazi persecution.”

“Naturally, we regret that this wonderful painting will probably leave the Kunsthaus after its sale,” Hildebrand said. “At the same time, this step underlines the seriousness of our provenance strategy.” 



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