Looted art is a Holocaust story


To the Editor:
In the case of the story on the Klimt at auction, JTA was negligent in the omission of the underlying history. It is obvious that the phrase Nazi-looted is a sexy term in journalism, but the real term lacking in the story is the Holocaust.

This was a Jewish family. The ancestor who owned it in 1939 was deported to the Lodz ghetto. "Never heard from again" is the phrase the press used to describe her demise either from disease, brutality or genocidal gassing in
a death camp.

It is a Holocaust story, a Holocaust recovery and the heir who recovers his share of the auction proceeds is more than likely entitled by law to full recovery, as the stolen nature of the painting cannot confer good title to the owners. That he chose to settle and not proceed through the courts for repossession is his choosing.

These paintings are still all around us in museums, private collections and dealers’ inventories. Heirs are entitled to recover their families’ lost artworks. Each recovery restores the truth of the Holocaust crime, the names of the original Jewish owners to the provenance, and implicates the art world in the despicable trade of these forlorn artworks during and after the Holocaust.

Fern Smiley

Recommended from JTA