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Nazi Treasure Trove Discovered

The story behind the amazing, newly-revealed trove — Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Renoir — of Nazi-plundered art.

Nazi Party leader Hermann Goerring takes in a collection of Henri Matisse prints removed by the German army during a hunt for 'degenerate art.' (CREDIT)

PARIS – DECEMBER 2, 1941: At the Jeu de Paume Museum, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring sits gazing at two paintings by Henri Matisse being supported by Bruno Lohse. Both paintings were stolen from the Paul Rosenberg collection by the Nazis and were recovered and returned after the war. (Archives des Musées Nationaux)

It’s no secret that the Nazis stole, looted, a mountain of art in World War II.  Huge quantities of priceless paintings, cultural artifacts, trucked and trained and hidden all over Europe by Adolf Hitler’s men, looking to remake European culture in the image of the Third Reich.  The Allies fought back on this front too, sending in units of their own to find and save the treasures of Europe.  But they missed a lot.  This week, news out of Munich of a newly-revealed trove.  Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, Picasso.  Up next On Point:  the story behind the amazing newly-revealed trove of Nazi-plundered art.

– Tom Ashbrook


Thomas Röll, one of two reporters who first the story for the German weekly magazine Focus.

Jonathan Petropoulos, professor of European History and chair of the history department at Claremont McKenna College. Author of “The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany” and “Art as Politics In the Third Reich.”

Robert Edsel, founder and president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, co-producer of the documentary, ‘The Rape of Europa.” Author of “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe’s Great Art, America and Her Allies Recovered It” and “Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures From the Nazis.” (@RobertEdsel)

David Rowland, partner at the New York City law firm Rowland & Petroff, which specializes in art recovery representation.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Cache of Nazi-Seized Art Discovered in Munich Apartment– “The works, by artists including Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, are estimated to be worth about €1 billion ($1.35 billion), according to a preliminary analysis for authorities undertaken by an expert at Berlin’s Free University. German authorities made the discovery more than two years ago but kept the finding a secret, they say, pending the completion of their investigation.”

New York Times: In a Rediscovered Trove of Art, a Triumph Over the Nazis’ Will — “Among the very first goals of the Nazis was to purge German museums and ransack private collections. Perversely, they stockpiled the modern art they hated, some to sell abroad in exchange for hard currency. Hildebrand was one of the dealers whom Joseph Goebbels picked for this task. Some art they paraded in an exhibition of shame. The show ended up a blockbuster, infuriating the Führer. After that, thousands upon thousands of confiscated works disappeared.”

Los Angeles Times: George Clooney’s ‘The Monuments Men’ pushed to 2014 — “George Clooney’s World War II drama ‘The Monuments Men’ will not arrive in theaters this year as planned because the film’s visual effects could not be completed in time, the actor and director said. The tale of a ragtag band of art historians, museum curators and academics racing to rescue paintings and sculptures looted by the Nazis — slated to open Dec. 18 — now will be released by Sony Pictures early next year.”

Gallery Of Looted Art Discovered In Munich

Likely List Of Art Included In Stash

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  • Wahoo_wa

    None of the works found are to my taste but it’s exciting that they were found!

  • alsordi

    Germans kept this secret for two years, but it looks like certain people got wind of it in enough time to make a very timely movie on this subject. Perhaps, as suspected much of that NSA eavesdropping on allies is being passed on to “top secret” buddies and cousins on Wall Street and Hollywood.

    • ToyYoda

      Wait for the Ed Snowden leak about how NSA has been in cahoots with Hollywood.

  • J__o__h__n

    I hope most of it goes on public display. I would have loved to have gone to Hitler’s Degenerate Art Show.

  • J__o__h__n

    An artist Hitler would also have hated, Art Spiegelman, has an exhibition opening today in NY. He would be a great On Point guest. http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/exhibitions/art-spiegelman

  • ToyYoda

    Do the unique journeys that these painting went through affect the value of the paintings?

    • J__o__h__n

      It might decrease it if there are issues of who owns it.

  • J__o__h__n

    There is a good documentary on the Nazi art thefts: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0997088/

    • jefe68

      Scene that film, it’s excellent .

  • jsallen

    Tom Ashbrook, please stop referring to these artworks as “Nazi art.” The Nazis did not create this art, they confiscated it, stole it, hid it. Consider the art which they did create: monuments to themselves, propaganda posters, hideous caricatures of Jews…

  • jefe68

    What? Are you kidding? So in your sick world view Jews who were forced to sell their art to nazis was just a business transaction?

    Gai in drerde!

    • Labropotes

      “You know it is sometimes very pleasant to take offence, isn’t it? A man may know that nobody has insulted him, but that he has invented the insult for himself, has lied and exaggerated to make it picturesque, has caught at a word and made a mountain out of a molehill — he knows that himself, yet he will be the first to take offence, and will revel in his resentment till he feels great pleasure in it, and so pass to genuine vindictiveness… All this, too, is deceitful posturing…”

      • jefe68

        Look pal, my mother lost 80% of her family in WW2. All of them were murdered by the nazis. Yeah I’m taking offense with this mans absurd reasoning. Who the hell to do you think you are here?

  • J__o__h__n

    Of the newly discovered works? It was my understand that the art show didn’t have a catalog.

  • Karen Kinser

    The chance of being able to return these amazing pieces of art to their original owners seems slim. I wish that some multibillionaire would offer to create a museum – for instance: ‘The Rape of Europe’ – another holocaust memorial to those who once owned and loved the art – and from whom it was stolen.

    • ToyYoda

      This would be a great idea, but I’d rather not call it “The Rape of Europe”. I would rather the museum emphasize the paintings themselves but have respect to the victims.

  • M S

    The West’s love of the object is sickening. They will turn over every stone for a painting, yet take a life like it has no value.

    • J__o__h__n

      What is the East’s excuse for not valuing life?

      • M S

        I didn’t know the East does not value life; please expound. Perhaps you mean that they do not put a value on life.

    • geraldfnord

      Neither is monolithic; note that Chinese culture includes both devout vegetarians and people who revel in eating the flesh of still-moving creatures and of endangered species, Japanese culture both the Tea Ceremony and the Rape of Nanjing, Korean all of the Northern Kims, the Southern junta members of old, and “Gangnam Style”‘s Psy.

      In all cases, the only solid limitations on humans appear to be our physical abilities: the West had a lead in wide-scale atrocity because we had a technological lead in wide-scale _anything_, but as the East has progressed it certainly has shown its own ability to be cruel and callous, and excusing it better and better, in ways more sophisticated than ‘We are saving the fish from drowning.’

  • Karen Kinser

    To love art, one must be able to try to understand another’s point of view – and be open to new ideas and THINK. I can see why some of the posters on this blog do not see the value of the art, or the search for the truth. It was closed-minded thinking that fostered Hitler’s ideas and the methods his followers used to try to create a Germany in Hitler’s likeness.

    • FredBOS

      That’s a bit of a stretch. If one doesn’t see what you see. they are closed minded and subject following Hitler types. Odd at best.

  • dishka

    Your show was informative. Just one comment about the film, Train. It was made in 1965. The contents of that Train, as the true story is told in Lynn Nicholas’, book, The Rape of Europa was from the fine art that hung in the homes and galleries of the Jewish citizens of France. It was booty, stolen from Jews by the official arm of the Nazi plundering project, The ERR.http://www.errproject.org/.

  • dishka

    Petition to immediately release the information


  • hennorama

    Today, Nov. 9, 2013, marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

    Never forget.

  • geraldfnord

    Thanks, though as a descendant of a survivor I think you’d best go with ‘appreciate’ over ‘enjoy’…but thanks, and congratulations.

    • Dana Fitzwater Cornell

      My sincere apologies on my word choice.

  • geraldfnord

    ‘Reality’ as it was, was sick—and distressed businesses are typically not sold under the threat of death, but under the threat of greater debt, bad but not in the same league—neither Chapter 7 nor Chapter 11 nor the B.G.B.’s equivalent offering safe harbour.

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