Chagall painting stolen by Nazis sells for $7.4 million at New York auction

published on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 at 04:18

A painting by Marc Chagall, which is among 15 works stolen by the Nazis and returned by France to the heirs of the despoiled families, was sold Tuesday evening for 7.4 million dollars during an auction organized by the Phillips house , At New York.

The sale took place as part of the fall auction season, which sees major companies in the sector sell hundreds of works of art for several billion dollars in a few days, in the upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan.

On Tuesday, 46 works were sold for nearly $139 million by Phillips. The most expensive, a monumental painting by Cy Twombly, “Untitled” (2005), which once belonged to the French businessman Fran├žois Pinault, went for 41.6 million dollars.

Chagall’s 1911 oil-on-canvas painting ‘The Father’ was purchased in 1928 by a Jewish Polish luthier, David Cender, who lost his possessions when he was forced to move to the Lodz ghetto .

Deported to Auschwitz, where his wife and daughter were killed, this musician had survived and settled in France in 1958, where he died in 1966 without recovering possession of the painting.

Meanwhile, the work had reappeared in exhibitions and Marc Chagall himself had bought it, probably between 1947 and 1953, ignoring its origin, according to Phillips and the French Ministry of Culture.

After the death in France in 1985 of the artist of Russian origin, “The Father” entered the national collections in 1988, then was assigned to the Pompidou Center and deposited at the Museum of Art and History of Judaism in Paris.

France had passed a law at the beginning of the year, unanimously in Parliament, to restore fifteen works of Jewish families looted by the Nazis. A “historic” text and “a first step”, because “spoiled works of art and books are still kept in public collections”, said the Minister of Culture at the time, Roselyne Bachelot.

David Cender’s heirs have decided to sell the painting, a common scenario “when a work is returned so long after” because “there are multiple heirs and the work cannot be divided”, explained to the AFP the vice-president of Phillips, Jeremiah Evarts.

The painting, a colorful and expressive portrait of his father, was painted by Chagall the year he arrived in Paris. His works from the time are “rare”, because “many of them were destroyed when he left Paris to return to Russia in 1914”, added Mr. Evarts.

Phillips did not provide buyer information, as is customary with auction houses.

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