Swiss Museum to Pay Undisclosed Sum to Heirs of Jewish Art Collector Victimized by Nazis
The Swiss city of Basel’s Fine Arts Museum has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the heirs of the Jewish art collector Curt Glaser as compensation for acquiring artworks from him at knock-down prices when he fled Nazi Germany, the website Swiss-Info reported on Friday.
The museum acknowledged that Glaser had been “a victim of National Socialism” and said it had reached a “fair and just” solution with his heirs. The collection of more than 100 pieces, including works by Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall, was bought at auction in Berlin in 1933.
In 2008, the museum denied taking unfair advantage of Glaser, saying it had no knowledge that the artworks belonged to him and insisting that they were purchased at fair market prices for the time.
However, leaked documents later revealed that “cheap prices” were paid in full knowledge that it was for Glaser’s collection. Glaser was forced to flee Germany after being ejected as director of Berlin’s Art Library. He traveled to the United States via Switzerland and died in New York in 1943.
The compensation was paid under the terms of the Washington Principles that address cases of Nazi-looted art, including buyers who took advantage of people selling art at bargain prices under duress to finance their escape from the Nazis.
The museum also agreed to stage an extensive exhibition of the Glaser collection in 2022.