September 24, 2020
DFS Superintendent Lacewell Announces Resolution of Nazi Looted Art Claim for 16th Century Drawing from the Renowned Collection of Dr. Arthur Feldmann
Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell today announced that the heirs of Dr. Arthur Feldmann and a private German collector have reached a resolution of a restitution claim concerning Gabriel Jacques de Saint-Aubin’s drawing entitled Young Woman Seated, holding a fan in her right hand.
The French Old Master drawing was recently acquired in good faith by the current owner, who discovered the work’s tainted provenance through his own diligent research and on his own initiative after matching the drawing to the Department of Financial Services Holocaust Claims Processing Office’s (HCPO) posting on the Lost Art Database of the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste. The current owner contacted Dr. Feldmann’s heirs offering to return the drawing to them with no strings attached. The Feldman heirs instead gifted the drawing to the collector for his upstanding and generous offer.
“The story of this drawing serves as an outstanding example of private individuals coming together to set the moral balance sheet right,” said Superintendent Lacewell. “The amicable and mutually respectful resolution of this matter nobly honors the memory of Dr. Feldmann and also acknowledges the current owner acquired the drawing in good faith.”
Dr. Feldmann, a prominent Jewish lawyer from Brno, Czechoslovakia, was also a well-known collector of Old Master drawings. His collection consisted of over 750 drawings by Dutch, Italian and French 16th and 17th century artists. On March 15, 1939, the Nazis invaded Brno and requisitioned the Feldmann villa for use as officer quarters and looted all the Feldmann’s household goods and possessions, including the drawings collection. Like the fate of many European Jews at the time, Dr. Feldmann lost his livelihood, all of his property, and eventually his life, after being arrested, tortured, and suffering a stroke. His wife Gisela was sent to Theresienstadt and later perished at Auschwitz. Dr. Feldmann’s two sons, fled Czechoslovakia in 1940, and survived the war.
Since the end of World War II, the heirs of Dr. Feldmann have tirelessly sought to recover his drawings collection. Over sixty years later, Dr. Feldmann’s grandson, Uri Peled, continues to seek to preserve his grandfather’s legacy and recover his looted drawings.
The HCPO is a unit of the New York State Department of Financial Services. It was created in 1997 to help Holocaust victims and their heirs recover: assets deposited in banks; unpaid proceeds of insurance policies issued by European insurers; and artworks that were lost, looted or sold under duress. The HCPO does not charge claimants for its services. To date, the HCPO has responded to thousands inquires and received claims from 46 states and 39 countries. The office has helped secure over $181 million in offers for bank, insurance, and other losses. The office facilitated settlements involving 162 cultural objects.