Posts Tagged ‘Czernin’

Heirs’ claim for Hitler’s Vermeer painting is rejected by Austrian panel.

March 30th, 2011

An Austrian panel recently rejected a claim for a Vermeer painting by the heirs of a man who sold it to Adolf  Hitler, saying there was no evidence the sale was forced or that the seller was persecuted. Austria’s art restitution panel threw out the argument by the heirs of Jaromir Czernin that Hitler’s acquisition amounted to a “sale under duress” and should be nullified. The panel instead recommended that Austria keeps the painting. “There is no reason to assume that the sale of  The Art of Painting by Jaromir Czernin to Adolf Hitler was an invalid transaction,” the panel said in a statement on its website.

Read Randol Schoenberg’s arguments in favor of the restitution of Vermeer’s Art of Painting to Helga Conrad, the step-daughter of Jaromir Czernin-Morzin.

March 17th, 2011


Will the Vienna Kunthistorisches lose its Vermeer?

March 16th, 2011

Friday March 18, the Austrian art restitution advisory committee will meet to discuss the ownership of the most important work of art still disputed in the aftermath of WWII, Vermeer’s Art of Painting. The case is not closed in favor of the Viennese art institution. Randol Schoenberg, the heavy-weight Los Angeles attorney who represents Helga Conrad, the step-daughter of Jaromir Czernin-Morzin  who in turn sold the work to Hitler, has litigated several prominent Nazi-looted art cases., including Republic of Austria vs. Altmann.  Schoenberg won the return of five paintings by Gustav Klimt valued at over $300 million.

Read an article by Randol Schoenberg here.

The painting’s afterlife in cluding the Czernin case.

in a nutshell (source: Wikipedia):

After the Nazi invasion of Austria, top Nazi officials including Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring attempted to acquire the painting. It was finally acquired from its then owner, Count Jaromir Czernin by Adolf Hitler for his personal collection at a price of 1.65 million Reichsmark through his agent, Hans Posse on November 20, 1940.[7] The painting was rescued from a salt mine at the end of World War II in 1945, where it was preserved from Allied bombing raids, with other works of art.

The Americans presented the painting to the Austrian Government in 1946, since the Czernin family were deemed to have sold it voluntarily, without undue force from Hitler. It is now the property of the State of Austria.

In August 2009 a request was submitted by the heirs of the Czernin family to Austria’s culture ministry for the return of the painting. A previous request was submitted in 1960s however it was  “rejected on the grounds that the sale had been voluntary and the price had been adequate.” A 1998 restitution law which pertains to public institutions has bolstered the family’s legal position.

The current state of the Art of Painting

January 5th, 2010

Following the claims (September 2008)  of the heirs of Jaromir Czernin concerning the ownership of  The Art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer, the Kunsthistorische Museum of Vienna has launched a web page to inform those interested in the current state of discussion. Here is the link:


Get background information at the NGA study, The Art of Painting: The Painting’s Afterlife

Get a review of current events at Restitution And Remorse by Natascha Eichinger on the Vienna Review.

The Czernins want “their” Vermeer back

September 8th, 2009

The heirs of the prominent Czernin family want the Austrian government to return Vermeer’s Art of Painting which they say was sold by force to Adolf Hitler in 1940, a newspaper said Saturday. Allegedly, Count Jaromir Czernin sold Vermeer’s masterpiece to the Nazi dictator “to protect the life of his family,”  his descendants’ attorney told Der Standard. The painting is housed at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum since 1946.

“We are convinced that the Austrian republic will treat this case in an open and honest manner,” said the family attorney adding that he had filed the request on August 31. The culture ministry confirmed Saturday that it had received Theiss’s request and would transmit it to a committee tasked with issuing opinions on restitutions. The family had already asked for the painting to be returned in the 1960s, but their requests were rejected on the basis that it had been sold voluntarily and at an appropriate price.

Hitler had expressed interest in acquiring the painting as early as 1935 to put it in the Fuehrer Museum which he planned to build in the Austrian city of Linz. During the winter of 1943/1944 Hitler transferred the painting to safety in the tunnels of the salt mines Altaussee. Special service units of the American Army retrieved the Art of Painting and other works of art from the tunnels in spring 1945.

For a detailed write-up about the afterlife of Vermeer’s Art of Painting, see the Washington National Gallery special feature.