Arthur R. Menke
Arthur R. Menke, who owned and operated the successful wholesale exotic fruit importing business Menke & Busse, was born on July 7, 1877 in Gefhorn, Germany. Between 1934 and 1941, he and his wife Johanna resided in a large house on the Alster River at 3 Willistrasse in Hamburg, Germany. For over forty years, Menke collected numerous art works including portraits, drawings, engravings, antique silver and gold ornaments, porcelain, rare books, tapestries and miniatures. His art collection grew to encompass thousands of items.
The persecution of Arthur Menke and his wife began soon after the National Socialists rose to power. Menke was forced to sell his home and business at artificially low prices and was compelled to pay various fines, taxes and bribes to the Nazi authorities in order to secure authorization to leave Germany. In preparation for his emigration from Germany, he packed his art works into several crates and sent them to a government designated forwarding agent with the intention of shipping them to Stockholm, Sweden. However, despite paying exorbitant export taxes, Menke did not receive approval from the Nazi government to export them before his departure date and was thus forced to leave them behind when he fled to the United States via Lisbon in late 1941. On August 21, 1942, the art works were seized from their storage site at Julius Schumacher & Co. by the state police and subsequently sold at a court ordered public auction on December 17-19, 1942. Arthur Menke died in New York in July 1944.