Lilly Cassirer Neubauer, a member of a prominent Jewish family of publishers and gallery owners living in Nazi Germany was desperate to obtain an exit visa before she was captured by the Nazi army. In order to receive her one way ticket out of the Nazi rule, she was forced to surrender her beloved family heirloom, a Parisian street scene pained by Camille Pissarro in 1897 entitled, Rue Saint-Honore, après-midi, effet de pluie (Rue Saint-Honore, afternoon, rain effect). Appraised at the time for a stingy $360 by a Nazi appointed art appraiser, Lilly traded the work and fled the country with her husband, Otto. While Lilly never saw the Pissarro painting again, West Germany awarded her 120,000 marks four years before her death acknowledging she was the legal owner of the work.
In 2005, the legal heir to the painting, Claude Cassirer, became aware of the location in which the once Nazi looted work, was on display. Bought in 1976, by Baron Hand Heinrich von Thyssen and later passed to the Spanish state, the work has hung in the Thyssen-Bournemisza Museum in Madrid since 1993. Cassirer filed a complaint to have the work of art handed over to him. Unfortunately, Cassirer passed away during the trial leading to a dismissal of the case.
Since then, California appeals court has reopened the lawsuit. Given an extension to the statute of limitations to recover stolen art, the heirs have been given a chance yet again to reclaim their rightful ownership of the Parisian street scene painting.
Nazi looted art is such an interesting topic…. Would definitely recommend reading Monuments Men if you are interested in the story!
Thanks! I will definitely check that out!