Bloomberg‘s Catherine Hickey gives the details on the Richard Feigen’s recently discovered restitution-case painting:
The portrait of St. Jerome in the wilderness, attributed to Ludovico Carracci, shows the bare-chested saint turning from his book as two angels greet him. Feigen paid 100,000 deutsche marks (about $685,000 at current rates) for the work in 2000 at Kunsthaus Lempertz in Cologne, the same auction house that sold the contents of Stern’s gallery before the war.
Kunsthaus Lempertz’s Managing Director Henrik Hanstein sees the situation differently:
“In Germany, there is no legal basis for compensation,” Hanstein said in a telephone interview from Cologne. “Under German law, Feigen is the rightful owner as he bought the painting in good faith.” He said he wouldn’t now knowingly sell any paintings from the Stern auction. “In 2000, the Stern-auction 392 was not yet known as a restitution case. And even today it can be argued whether or not the restitution of the Stern works is a legitimate demand since Max Stern was compensated for his losses in 1964,” he said.
But Feigen insists the work should go back to the Stern estate:
“That’s where it should go,” Feigen said in a telephone interview, when asked how he felt about handing it back to Stern’s heirs. The painting hung in his living room and he had never intended to sell it, Feigen said.
Besides, there are other questions about the painting that remain unanswered too:
Feigen said the attribution of the painting to Carracci is also in doubt, because the last catalogue raisonne of the painter’s works said the picture was not one of his. “At the moment, its value would be very much in question with respect to the authenticity,” Feigen said.