Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art

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Overview


Between 1939 and 1944, as the Nazis overran Europe, they were also quietly conducting another type of pillage. The Lost Museum tells the story of the Jewish art collectors and gallery owners in France who were stripped of rare works by artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas, Cézanne, and Picasso. Before they were through, the Nazis had taken more than 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings from France.The Lost Museum explores the Nazis’ systematic confiscation of these artworks, focusing on the private collections of five families: Rothschild, Rosenberg, Bernheim-Jeune, David-Weill, and Schloss. The book is filled with private family photos of this art, some of which has never before been seen by the public, and it traces the fate of these works as they passed through the hands of top German officials, unscrupulous art dealers, and unwitting auction houses such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
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Editorial Reviews

Richard Bernstein
...an important and instructive book. -- New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
A comprehensive picture of Nazi looting and its consequences....important and instructive.
New York Times
A comprehensive picture of Nazi looting and its consequences....important and instructive.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Feliciano focuses on five major collectionsof the Rothschilds, the Paul Rosenbergs, the Bernheim-Jeunes, the David-Weills and the Schlossesto illustrate how Nazis (and many others) took advantage of anti-Jewish laws to confiscate Jewish art. Between ideological programs (such as Otto Kmmel's list of German art in France to be repatriated), the personal rapaciousness of officials (Goering being a particularly famous example) and the greed of collaborators such as the Parisian antique dealers Yves Perdoux and Cunt de Lestang, major works were dispersed, sold for profit and, on occasion, destroyed. The fate of cultural artifacts in France during the occupation has been Feliciano's preoccupation for some time, and he has certainly done his legwork, tracking down original owners of such works as Leger's Woman in Red and Green at the Muse National d'Art Moderne in Paris. The problem is, he doesn't seem to quite believe that his subject is important. The result is a style that is sometimes breathless, sometimes self-aggrandizing, whether in declarations such as "I took a deep breath"; the praises for his own work (he likens his book to "the discovery of an archipelago"); or generally excitable prose. Also, Feliciano is first and foremost a journalist (he is a contributor to the L.A. Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times), and the longer book length shows up jarring jumps in chronology and an overall choppiness. This is a slightly augmented translation by the author of his own book, published in Paris in 1995. (June)
Library Journal
The systematic looting of Europe's art treasures by Nazi Germany was on a scale rivaled since Napoleon's time. Tracing Germany's methodical confiscation of French collections, journalist Feliciano tells a compelling story. He focuses on French private collections that were either appropriated outright by the German government or "purchased" at fire-sale prices. Though many of these works were returned at the close of the war, Feliciano carefully tracks a number that have yet to be restored. Feliciano does a good job of keeping the various collections, works, and German governmental agencies distinct. Well written and thoroughly documented, the book is a useful addition to the growing literature on this subject. In a work that is part mystery, part crime thriller, and part art history, New York Times reporter Honan tells how he helped track down the priceless medieval treasures of Quedlinburg, missing since the end of World War II. The treasuresjewel-encrusted manuscripts and reliquarieswere last seen shortly before the end of the war and were suspected stolen by an American soldier. Following leads from a German cultural agent, Honan methodically tracks the treasures to a small Texas town. Unraveling the mystery of how they got there and who the culprit was makes for page-turning reading. His account, unlike Feliciano's, is of a relatively isolated incident. Their shared storythe loss of cultural heritage in wartimeis, however, too common. For a more scholarly history of Nazi German cultural theft, see Lynn H. Nicholas's The Rape of Europa (LJ 5/1/94). Both reviewed works are highly recommended for public and academic libraries with an interest in art or World War II.Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465041916
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/24/1998
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 535,739
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.09 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author


Hector Feliciano is editor-in-chief of World Media Network. A former cultural writer for the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, he has lived in Paris for many years.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
1 Vermeer's Astronomer, or Hitler's Blind Spot 13
2 The Kummel Report, or The Nazis' Reply to Napoleon 24
3 Hermann Goering, "Friend of the Arts" 31
4 The Exemplary Looting of the Rothschild Collections 43
5 The Paul Rosenberg Gallery: Modern and "Degenerate" Art for Sale 52
6 The Bernheim-Jeune Collection, or The Burning of The Jas de Bouffan 75
7 David David-Weill, or The Patron Stripped Bare 86
8 The Schloss Collection, or Dutch Painters for Hitler 95
9 Visitors to the Jeu de Paume 105
10 Business as Usual: The Paris Art Market During the War 122
11 Switzerland: The Importance of Being Neutral 155
12 The Found and the Lost 165
13 A Short Swiss Epilogue: Purchased Skeletons in the Kunstkammern 190
14 Something New on the Eastern Front 206
15 The Purgatory of the MNRs 213
App. A The Schenker Papers 241
App. B An Interview with Alain Vernay 251
Notes 257
Index 267
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