Bloomberg’s Catherine Hickey examines the voluntary restitution of a Franz Marc painting–Cat Behind a Tree–by a German company:
The Hess family, who lived in Erfurt, had one of the most comprehensive collections of German expressionist art at that time, with about 4,000 works by artists including Max Pechstein, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde and Paul Klee. In 2006, the city of Berlin restituted Kirchner’s “Berlin Street Scene” to the sole surviving heir, who lives in London.
Marc’s 1910 “Cat Behind a Tree” was one of several paintings that Tekla Hess sent to Switzerland for protection from the Nazis in 1933. It was sold to Pelikan AG, a maker of ink and stationery, in 1936. Though it isn’t known whether Hess received any money in the transaction, under German restitution law, art sales by Jewish collectors made after 1933 are assumed to be forced. NordLB bought the painting in 1983. [ . . . ] NordLB has a collection of about 3,000 artworks, with the emphasis on postwar art. It owns works by Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, Sol LeWitt, Jeff Koons, Jannis Kounellis and Joerg Immendorff, among others.