Christie's Restitution


Christie’s has been privileged to serve the restitution community in auctioning many important works of art.

A Masterpiece of American Modernism
A seminal work by Marsden Hartley, Lighthouse was painted in the heady Berlin of 1915, shortly before the turmoil of the First World War compelled the artist to return to the United States. The turmoil of the Second World War equally played a part in the painting's history. Until the last weeks of the conflict, it was at Schloss Ostrau near Halle in the collection Dr. Hans Hasso Baron von Veltheim, a wealthy and prominent figure in the cultural elite that Hartley had admired. Seized by Soviet troops in 1945, the painting passed through the hands of their Military Administration to the Museum Stiftung Mortizberg in Halle, where it was exhibited from 1954 to 2008.

The painting was returned to the heir of Dr. Hans Hasso Baron von Veltheim in February 2008 and offered for sale at Christie’s in New York that May.



Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)


Old Master Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker
As Amsterdam’s leading Old Master art dealer and connoisseur, Jacques Goudstikker was renowned through Europe for his extensive collection. But this prominence was also its undoing following the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands in May 1940. The dealer, his wife and young son fled for their lives to escape the war and the Nazis’ increasingly pernicious anti-Jewish measures. In Goudstikker’s absence, his gallery was ‘aryanised’ and over 1,300 works of art were confiscated by Hermann Göring and his associates.

Goudstikker did not survive the war. In the post-war years, his widow, Desi, managed to recover some of their spoliated property but much remained in the Dutch national collection. It was not until 2006, after many years of the family pressing their restitution claim, that the Dutch government returned over 200 pictures. Selected works were offered for sale through Christie’s in New York, London and Amsterdam in 2007.

In this video, Nicholas H.J. Hall, International Head of Old Masters and
19th Century Art, and Monica Dugot, Director of Restitution, discuss
the Goudstikker Collection.


Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670)
Ferry Boat with cattle on the
River Vecht near Nijenrode


The Bloch-Bauer Klimts
The restitution in 2006 by the Republic of Austria of three absorbing landscapes and a captivating portrait by Gustav Klimt – Birch Forest, Houses at Unterach on the Attersee, Apple Tree I and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II - marked the drawing to a close of a seven year legal battle by the heirs of Adele and Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer for their return.

Adele Bloch-Bauer had been an important patron of the artist and a leading figure in Viennese high society. Matched in marriage to the industrialist and banker Ferdinand Bloch, together they formed an impressive collection of paintings and decorative arts. This collection was seized by the Nazi authorities in the days following the Austrian Anschluss in March 1938.

Along with the iconic ‘golden’ portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I (now in the Neue Galerie, New York), these four paintings were transferred to the Österreichische Galerie in Vienna, where they remained over the decades until their return. They were offered at Christie's in New York in November 2006.




Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II


The John and Anna Jaffé Collection
John and Anne Jaffé, well-known and long-standing figures in the English circle in Nice, delighted in collecting wonderful art for their villa on the Promenade des Anglais. With a focus primarily on British and Dutch art, their collection including significant works by Turner and Gainsborough, Teniers and Van Ostade, Guardi and Goya.

While John died in 1934, Anna lived till 1942, long enough to witness the occupation of France and the collaborationist policies of the Vichy government. It was such anti-Jewish measures that lead to the seizure of the Villa Jaffé and the confiscation and forced auction of the collection in 1943. Their Guardi, The Grand Canal Venice with the Palazzo Bembo, was selected for Hitler’s planned museum in Linz, but was recovered by the Allies and returned to France after the war, along with a handful of other paintings which entered the French collection of recovered works (the Musées Nationaux Récupération). The Guardi was eventually restituted to the family in 2005 by the French state and offered by Christie’s King Street that July.

J.M.W. Turner’s Glaucus and Scylla was returned by the Kimbell Art Foundation in Fort Worth in 2006 and offered for sale at Christie’s in
New York in April 2007, where it was re-acquired for the museum.


Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A.

Glaucus and Scylla


The Gutmann Collection
The diverse collection of the Gutmann family - started by Eugen Gutmann, founder of the Dresdner Bank, and expanded by his son Fritz, head of the Dutch branch of the business - included not only pictures but also important Renaissance silver, bronzes, miniatures, furniture, tapestries and fine porcelain. Following the occupation of The Netherlands in 1940, the collection was forcibly ‘acquired’ by the Nazis, using sustained threats, thuggery and persecution, which Fritz and his wife, Louise, did not survive.

The quest to recover the collection and lost family possessions was passed down through the generations. In 2002 over two hundred items, which had quietly remained in the Dutch state hands in the intervening decades following their recovery by the Allies, were restituted to the family. These included big and small, modest and significant, all treasured objects from the family’s former home in Heemstede. A selection was offered for sale at Christie’s in Amsterdam in May 2003 and at Christie’s in London in June of the same year.



Mark of Johannes Lencker I
Augsburg, 1625-30

A Magnificent German Silver-Gilt Ewer