Restitution is not a pretty game as this story from the Los Angeles Times shows. The Getty does the right thing by returning a work that it bought on good faith and never showed but the gesture immediately raises questions about the region’s most famous works that are the subject of a restitution claim from the same owner:
The Los Angeles museum’s two-paragraph announcement Monday said it had bought “Landscape With Cottage and Figures,” painted around 1640 by Pieter Molijn, “in good faith” at a 1972 auction. The Dutch artist’s painting has never gone on display. The Getty declined Monday to say how much it had paid.
A far more prominent work housed in Southern California, the Norton Simon Museum’s paired “Adam and Eve” paintings by Thomas Cranach the Elder, remains a hotly disputed prize from Goudstikker’s collection. Since 2007, the art dealer’s daughter-in-law, Marei von Saher, has been trying to reclaim it through a federal lawsuit.
“It is always encouraging to see an important cultural institution like the Getty Museum decide to do the right thing for Holocaust victims and their heirs,” von Saher said in a statement Monday.
Getty Museum agrees to return painting looted by Nazis (Los Angeles Times)