From 1933 until 1945, the Nazis systematically looted from their Jewish countrymen as well as those in surrounding countries. During this reign of terror, the Third Reich confiscated innumerable works of art, which were later sold to galleries, private collectors, and museums, lost to the original owners forever. Well, almost forever. Descendants of the original owners of looted art are forced to endure a long and arduous process to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. These heirs must undergo a series of restitution hearings and provide documentation that proves their ancestors owned the works of art documentation usually lost to the ages, considering how quickly their ancestors had to flee their homelands.
The Jewish Museum of Florida will present Auktion 392, a story about an art historian, gallery owner, and arts philanthropist, Dr. Max Stern, who had his collection looted and his career nearly destroyed by the Nazis. It is also a chronicle of the Aryanization policies of Nazi Germany, the racial cleansing and economic strategy employed, the complex legal and moral issues of restitution, and the practical difficulties in succeeding. The silver lining? The Nazis were so meticulous in their bookkeeping that their paperwork is usually the documentation used during restitution.
Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. Starts: Feb. 5. Continues through April 25, 2011