The Metropolitan Museum of Art has restituted a 16th-century silver stem cup that was taken //CAN WE SAY STOLEN?// by a Nazi-affiliated art dealer in 1941.
According to the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), who assisted in evaluating the object, it has been returned to the family of Eugen Gutmann, a German-Jewish banker who amassed a prized trove of silver before his death in 1925. Gutmann’s collection was bequeathed to his son, Fritz Gutmann, who was murdered in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
“The [Met] is committed to ensuring that works of art wrongfully appropriated during the Nazi era are restituted to their rightful owners,” Max Hollein, director of the museum, said in a statement. “It is important that this work is returned to the heirs of Eugen Gutmann, and in doing so, we hope to play a small part in honoring the family and the heroic efforts of Fritz Gutmann in safeguarding his father’s collection.”
The three-and-a-half-inch-tall stem cup was made in Munich in the 16th century. Though it’s unknown when or how the elder Gutmann acquired it, the cup was included in a 1912 catalog of his collection published by art historian Otto von Falke. (Von Falke called the collection “worthy to rank beside the treasure-chambers of princes.”)
Fritz Gutmann, a banker like his father, stored the inherited collection of silver at his home in the Netherlands. In 1941, the cup was one of many objects seized by the Paris-based Nazi art dealer Karl Haberstock through forced sale. Two years later, Nazi officers escorted Gutmann and his wife from their house, telling them they were being transferred to Berlin. Instead, Gutmann was taken to Theresienstadt while his wife went to Auschwitz.
Following 1941, the cup was absent from all subsequent inventories of the Eugen Gutmann collection, and the family was never compensated for it after the war. The object entered the Met’s collection as a bequest in 1974. The museum did not respond to Artnet’s request for comment.
“The Gutmann heirs opened an art claim with the HCPO in 2000, and we have been working together with them on restitution matters since then,” a representative from the HCPO explained in an email.
In 2017, the organization filed a restitution claim to the Met on behalf of Simon Goodman, the grandson of Fritz Gutmann and great-grandson of Eugen Gutmann, after he discovered the cup in the museum’s collection.
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