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October 28, 2014 6:07 pm

Nazi-Looted Jewish Artwork Displayed Back-to-Front to Raise Money to Pay Legal Owner

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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The back of the Hans von Marees Die Labung painting on display at Germany's Wiesbaden Museum. Photo: Wiesbaden Museum.

Germany’s Wiesbaden Museum is hanging a Nazi-looted painting backwards until they are able to raise part of the £230,000 fee to buy the artwork from its legal owner, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.

Visitors are only able to see the back antique frame of the Die Labung masterpiece. The painting, which was created by German artist Hans von Marees between 1879 and 1880, belonged to Jewish businessman Max Silberberg. The museum will only exhibit the work facing forward once Silberberg’s heir has been paid for the artwork, which was acquired by the Nazis just before World War II.

According to the museum’s website, if the fundraising goal of £93,000 is reached, which will contribute one third of the full cost, the image will be turned around. The campaign is called ‘Wiesbaden Creates the Turn!’

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Die Labung, translated as ‘The Refreshment,’ is one of Von Marees’ mythological paintings. Silberberg was forced to sell the artwork, along with the rest of his art collection, at a Berlin auction in 1934 under pressure from the Nazis, according to the Daily Mail. Both he and his wife were later murdered at Auschwitz.

The Wiesbaden family acquired the painting and in 1980 donated it to the museum. The artwork’s rightful owners have since been traced to the Gerta Silberberg Discretionary Trust in Israel, the Daily Mail said.

A German cultural foundation and the Association of Benefactors of Wiesbaden Museum agreed to contribute the remaining funds for the painting. The museum  is trying to raise the money before a Nov. 5 deadline.

“The painting has been in storage and has not been seen since the 1980s,” said a spokesperson from the museum. “We agreed on a price, but it doesn’t yet belong to us, and so we won’t show it until it legally does.”

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