Salomon van Ruysdael (Naarden circa 1600-1670 Haarlem) Ferry boat with cattle on the river Vecht near Nijenrode, Oil on panel, 22 7/8 x 33 in. (58 x 84 cm.). Estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2007.
NEW YORK/ LONDON / AMSTERDAM - Christie’s International today announced it has been selected to assist the heirs of Jacques Goudstikker with the sale of over 100 of the 200 Old Master pictures restituted to the family in February 2006. Christie’s International Old Master Picture Department will oversee the sale of the pictures through three auctions: April 19 in New York, July 5 in London, and in November in Amsterdam. The paintings to be sold represent a breathtaking overview of Dutch Old Master pictures from the 15th to 19th centuries, along with excellent examples from 16th century Germany, early Italian and 18th century French works.
“The Dutch government’s return of these pictures was an historic event for us and for all families whose possessions were stolen during the Holocaust era. It was also a milestone in my family’s mission to restore the legacy of Jacques Goudstikker and to recover the property that was stolen from his gallery,” says Marei von Saher, the widow of Edouard (“Edo”), the only son of Desirée (“Desi”) and Jacques Goudstikker. “While we are thrilled that Jacques’ memory has been honored by the restitution, we wish that Desi and Edo could be here to enjoy it with us.
“Just as Desi did after the War, my daughters, Charlène and Chantal, and I have devoted years of our lives to seeing that their grandfather receives the recognition that he deserves. Although we must part with some beautiful paintings, we are fortunate to be able to keep many of them for our private collection and exhibit those works publicly in the United States and abroad to tell the powerful story of Jacques Goudstikker and his collection. We are pleased to be entrusting the sale to Christie’s, which has strong experience in responsibly handling Nazi-era restitution issues.”
The family’s planned international exhibitions will include works by Salomon van Ruysdael, Jan van der Heyden and Jan Steen. They will celebrate not only the restitution, but also Jacques’ pivotal role in the cultural life of Amsterdam during the early decades of the 20th century and his influence on international artistic taste. The exhibitions will be organized by the family with the assistance of Peter C. Sutton, who is the Director of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT and a noted expert on Dutch Old Master paintings.
Marc Porter, President of Christie’s Americas, says, “The group of paintings to be sold is of exceptional historical importance. We are extremely honored that Marei von Saher has entrusted us with the important sale of these works. The auctions, and our planned pre-sale public views on both sides of the Atlantic, will highlight the Goudstikker legacy to a global audience.”
Nicholas Hall, International Director, Christie’s Old Master Picture Department, notes, “Jacques Goudstikker was an extraordinary dealer who had wide-ranging and fascinating taste. This is arguably the most important collection of Old Master pictures ever restituted. The pictures from the collection we are offering will attract the attention of museums, dealers and collectors alike, as these works have not been on the market for over 65 years. The ‘Ferry boat with cattle on the River Vecht near Nijenrode’ by Salomon van Ruysdael is one of the stars of the collection. Painted on panel, it is in perfect condition: rich in impasto with one of the luminous blue skies, tinged with pink and yellow, for which this artist is so renowned. This painting carries an estimate of $3,000,000-5,000,000. We feel it is worthy of any great collection of Dutch art, private or institutional.”
Some other examples of pictures to be sold will include works by Neri di Bicci, the Master of Frankfurt, Jan van Goyen, Philips Koninck, Pietro Longhi, Alessandro Magnasco, Isaac van Ostade, Jacob van Oostsanen and Jacob Ruisdael.
Monica Dugot, Director of Restitution and Senior Vice President, Christie’s International, comments: “It is an honor to be involved in the family’s important effort to celebrate the legacy of Jacques Goudstikker and to increase awareness about the fate of this historic collection as well as other objects looted during the Nazi-era. We take the question of works of art spoliated during the Nazi-era very seriously and are committed to working with clients, museums, dealers and the claimant community in finding clarity on such complex and sensitive issues and in helping to find fair and appropriate solutions.”
The Family and Restitution - These paintings are part of Jacques Goudstikker’s extensive collection of Old Master art that was looted by officers of Nazi Germany during its occupation of the Netherlands in the early 1940s. Mr. Goudstikker, his wife Desi and his only son Edo fled Holland on May 14, 1940, when Nazi troops invaded. He was forced to leave behind his business and 1,400 art works, but did take with him a black notebook that meticulously recorded over 1,000 of his pictures. This notebook has proved essential in the search for his lost stock decades later.
The family boarded a boat ultimately bound for the United States but Jacques Goudstikker tragically died in an accident while onboard. Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering looted the Goudstikker gallery with the assistance of his agent, Alois Miedl, and took the best of the collection back to Germany. Miedl managed his own ‘art dealership’ on the Goudstikker gallery’s premises through the war years. About 280 paintings from the Goudstikker collection were returned by the Allies to the Dutch authorities after the war, but rather than restitute the paintings to the family, as the Allies had anticipated, the Dutch authorities retained them, over the family’s protests, and incorporated them into the Dutch national collection.
In 1998, the Goudstikker heirs began a protracted legal battle to win back the pictures. In February 2006 the Dutch Government, based on the advice of its Restitutions Committee, resolved the largest outstanding claim to Nazi-looted art in the Netherlands by restituting 200 works to Marei, the heir of Jacques Goudstikker.
Today she is continuing her extensive efforts to reclaim other looted Goudstikker artworks that have been located throughout Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Lawrence M. Kaye and Howard N. Spiegler, international art lawyers at Herrick, Feinstein, LLP, based in New York, have been assisting the family for many years in connection with their efforts in the Netherlands and elsewhere to recover the looted Goudstikker artworks.
“We have been privileged to work with Marei and her family and are delighted with her victory in the Netherlands.” says Mr. Kaye. “There is, however, much that remains to be done. The paintings restituted by the Dutch Government represent only a fraction of what was lost, and our work to recover the other looted paintings continues. We trust that museums and private collectors who have artworks wrongfully taken from Jacques Goudstikker will follow the lead of the Dutch Government and return them.”
The family has established a research project under the direction of the noted art recovery specialist Clemens Toussaint to identify and locate the hundreds of missing paintings. Mr. Toussaint said: “We are employing a number of art historians who work in archives throughout Europe and in the U.S. This is perhaps the most comprehensive research project ever undertaken to track down a single-owner art collection looted by the Nazis, and it is our goal to find every single work.”