The justice found “the nullity of the successive sales” of the painting “The Penitent Magdalene” by the Dutch painter Adriaen van der Werff following “its spoliation” on October 23, 1942 by the Nazis in Paris
French justice on Friday ordered the restitution to the heirs of a distant cousin of Marcel Proust of a painting looted by the Nazis, at the heart of a dispute with the English auction house Christie’s.
The Paris court, according to a judgment consulted by AFP, found “the nullity of the successive sales” of the painting “The Penitent Magdalene” by the Dutch painter Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722) following “its spoliation “October 23, 1942 by the Nazis in Paris.
And ordered Christie’s in London to hand over the work to the heirs of Lionel Hauser. The latter was a distant cousin of Marcel Proust with whom he maintained a sustained correspondence, as a banker who managed his actions and a confidant.
A sale in 2017
The painting resurfaced when, in 2017, Christie’s was commissioned for a sale by the holder of the work, stolen by the German occupation army when Lionel Hauser, from a Jewish family, had fled the Nazis in the South of France.
Unlike a previous sale by Christie’s in 2005 (for 60,000 pounds at the time), the London auction house investigates this time and discovers that the work comes from the collection of Lionel Hauser and appears on the directory of looted property in France during the 1939-1945 war.
In 2018, Christie’s then contacted the heirs of Lionel Hauser proposing an arrangement with a half-sharing of the sale price. What the latter refuse, as revealed by The Parisian et The world.
French justice has also condemned Christie’s to pay 10,000 euros to the heirs of Lionel Hauser and ordered him to communicate the identity of the current holder of the painting, the location of the work as well as the history of sales and the total amount collected. .