PBS Newshour has an interesting take on the fate of restitution works which have gone from being tainted works to becoming objects of added fascination:
Phil Hirschkorn: Since Lucian Simmons started his job at Sotheby’s 21 years ago, the auction house has cleared and sold $800,000,000 of once-looted art.
Lucian Simmons: They used to say, “Don’t mention this difficult history of a painting. People won’t want to know that this belonged maybe to a Nazi, or stolen from a Jewish family.” But now people have gone the other way in that they actually want to hear the story. They want to hear the background of the painting.
Phil Hirschkorn: Next month, Sotheby’s will auction this painting from 1660 by the Dutch artist Gabriel Metsu. It belonged to the Rothschild family in Vienna, until the Nazis took it in 1938 and hung it in Hitler’s residence in Munich. The Monuments Men found it after the war with a Nazi inventory number on the back.
Lucian Simmons: The accounts clerks in the museum marked this AR, this is Alfonse von Rothschild, 8-5-7.
Phil Hirschkorn: A story that is part of the marketing of a painting estimated to be worth six to eight million dollars.Lucian Simmons: The provenance is certainly going to add to its rarity, add to its appeal.