The Daily Beast runs a very good update on the fate of Ambrose Vollard’s stock which after his death wound up in the hands of his protege, Erich Slomovic. Vollard’s heirs have received the proceeds of an earlier sale of these works found in a Paris bank vault. But a second cache sits in Serbia waiting disposition:
Slomovic’s 400-odd pieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, by the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Cocteau, Chagall, and others, survived Hitler’s brutal Operation Punishment and occupation of Yugoslavia. Peasants stored the collection behind a false wall during the war and it remained safe even when Slomovic was arrested and killed by the Nazis. Later, the artworks were miraculously rescued from a muddy field in central Serbia after a freak collision with a Bulgarian troop train killed Slomovic’s relatives as they headed to Belgrade with the treasure.
But after defying the odds of war, the horrors of the Holocaust, the double-dealing of secret agents, Communism, and the 1999 NATO bombing of Belgrade, it’s now beginning to look as though the collection may never again see the light of day.
It lies hidden in the bowels of Belgrade’s National Museum, which has been closed for renovations for 13 years and shows no signs of reopening. And now a proposed new law intended to compensate members of Serbia’s Jewish community for their wartime suffering may, ironically, destroy the precious legacy of a Holocaust victim.
Slomovic, a young prodigy who came to Paris in 1935 at age 20 and became a protégé of legendary art dealer Ambroise Vollard, managed in four or five years to amass a trove of about 600 priceless artworks.
The Fabulous Art Trove Saved From the Nazis—And Hidden From You (The Daily Beast)