Appeared in Jan. 2010 Glasstire
In 1940, the influential Dutch Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, his wife Desi and their one-year-old son Edo fled the invading Nazis on a cargo ship bound for England. But within 48 hours of their escape, he died in a freak accident, falling through an open hatch on the ship’s deck and breaking his neck.
Fortunately, though it would take more than 60 years for his heirs to benefit, Goudstikker carried in his breast pocket a little black book detailing his inventory of more than 1,400 works, mostly paintings, by artists such as Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Steen, Vincent van Gogh and Titian.
Hermann Göring, the Nazi’s second-in-command and a rapacious art collector, showed up on the doorstep of the Goudstikker art gallery in Amsterdam just two weeks after the 42-year-old art dealer’s death. Göring orchestrated a forced sale of the Goudstikker inventory in what is now recognized as one of the largest art thefts from an individual perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II.
In 2006, Marei von Saher, Edo’s widow, successfully concluded a 10-year legal battle with the Dutch government to reclaim 200 of Goudstikker’s paintings from the Dutch government – one of the first and largest claims to Nazi-looted art that has been resolved. Forty-six of the works can be seen in “Reclaimed; Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker” on view through Jan. 10, 2010, at the McNay Art Museum.