Bloomberg‘s Catherine Hickey talks to the woman who catalogued Hermann Goering’s art collection, some 1800 looted works that he stashed in his country estate, Carinhall that Nacy Yeide, who researches the provenance behind pictures at the National Gallery in Washington, DC, has now revealed in “Beyond the Dreams of Avarice.”
Goering liked portraits of German generals and political heroes, Dutch Old Masters and paintings of women, preferably unclothed. He amassed some 50 works by Lucas Cranach the Elder and 30 by Peter Paul Rubens.
He wasn’t interested in the monumental, bland contemporary art that Hitler promoted. He also kept some looted Impressionist pictures, deemed “degenerate” under the official Nazi line. […] “The collection was not filled with masterpieces, as was alleged frequently after the war,” Yeide says. “Most of the very best of the objects came from previously vetted collections from major collectors. Most of the minor works were gifts to Goering.” […] Among the art stolen from Jewish families like the Rothschilds and Goudstikkers were works by Joshua Reynolds, Paolo Uccello, Francois Boucher, Jean-Honore Fragonard and Anthony van Dyck. After his buyer, Walter Andreas Hofer, had selected the best, Goering would go to the Jeu de Paume in Paris to view the booty before it was shipped to Carinhall.[…]
In his fervor to get a Johannes Vermeer to crown his collection of Old Masters, Goering made one glaring error. He traded 150 paintings for a forgery by Han van Meegeren. Confronted in his jail cell with the truth, he “looked as if for the first time he had discovered there was evil in the world,” according to Stuart Leonard, the U.S. official who broke the news to him.
About 80 percent of Goering’s loot — most of which was safely evacuated before Carinhall was bombed — has been traced and returned to the rightful owners. Yeide says she hopes that the catalog will help to track down artworks still missing.