Rosenberg Matisse one of first works recovered from Gurlitts trove


Chris Marinello with the Matisse, inspecting it.

Chris Marinello of Art Recovery International has successfully assisted the Rosenberg family to recover ‘Femme Assise dans un Fauteuil’, also known as ‘La Blouse Roumaine, Figure á l’Éventail’, by Henri Matisse.

Marinello, the acting attorney representing the Rosenberg family, said: “We are delighted that ‘Femme Assise’ has now been returned and that we may count another step forward in recovering the works looted from Paul Rosenberg.”

The painting was originally stolen from the French art dealer in 1941, after he fled Nazi persecution, and is one of 460 works looted from the Rosenberg’s during the Second World War.

It then went missing for over 70 years. It was finally rediscovered in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, who was found with a priceless and hitherto unknown collection of over 1,200 paintings, many of them stolen by the Nazis. He had inherited the collection, estimated at several million francs, from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt. The collection came to light in 2012 when, during a routine check on a train, Cornelius was found to be carrying large quantities of cash. This triggered a tax enquiry leading to the discovery of the paintings. The Bavarian authorities later confiscated the collection. However, it was not until the press broke the story in 2013 that restitution of the works began.

An agreement has now been reached to return, unconditionally, the “Femme Assise dans un Fautueil” to the heirs of Paul Rosenberg. This is one of the first successful cases of restitution of the works found in Gurlitt’s Munich apartment.

In his press statement, Marinello said that the Rosenberg family had expressed their gratitude, not only to all the officials involved in the case, but also to the Gurlitt family.

He added: “It is hoped that the Culture Ministry will act with expediency and transparency in reviewing and resolving other claims to the Gurlitt pictures. Other victims can feel encouraged that unconditional restitution of artwork lost as a result of Nazi persecution is still possible and, above all, that time is no barrier to justice.”

The first work out of the large hoard to be restored to its owner was Max Liebermann’s ‘Two Riders on the Beach’. It was returned this month to David Toren, the 90-year-old grandnephew of original owner David  Friedman. Toren is now blind and unable to see the painting, but has consigned the painting to sale at Sotheby’s in their sale on the 19th June.