The New York Times now has more details on recent revelations that West German governments allowed Nazi families to claim art they had stolen or received as stolen goods during the Nazi era as their own and receive the works years after the end of World War II.
It turns out, the archives show, that hundreds of works were actually sold back at discounted prices in the 1950s and the 1960s to the very Nazis who had taken possession of them, including the widow of Hermann Goering, a senior aide to Hitler who pillaged art to amass a collection of more than a thousand works.
This murky chapter of history came to light because of Mr. Graykowski’s search for some 160 missing works from the Krause collection. In 2009, Mr. Graykowski, a Virginia lawyer, enlisted the help of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a London-based nonprofit that researched the archives for him and made key discoveries.
Anne Webber, a founder of the commission, said her researchers concluded that the resale of looted art to Nazi-tied families had hardly been isolated. “They called them a ‘return sale,’” she said. “Why were they returned to them rather than the family from whom they were looted? Nobody knew.”
The return sales to Nazi families — first reported in late June by the Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung — are also causing political recriminations. This week, a Bavarian state Parliament committee demanded an accounting from government officials about the extent of the system to resell art to Nazi families and a tally of how many looted works remain in government possession that could be returned to the proper heirs.
Nazi Art Loot Returned … to Nazis (The New York Times)