News Reports :

Brazilian Commission Hunts for Artworks Looted by Nazis

'Brazilian Commission Hunts for Artworks Looted by Nazis', JTA, 5 October 1998

A commission created by the Brazilian Justice Ministry in 1997 was using leads supplied by the World Jewish Congress to search for more than 100 looted works sold in the country between the 1940s and 1970s. In addition, two artworks — oil paintings by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso – – had been placed under the protection of the Special Commission to Examine the Nazi Legacy in Brazil.

According to Rabbi Henry Sobel, a member of the commission, the oils were in the possession of two Sao Paulo families who did not know the works were looted. They had been sold for $2.2 million in 1939 through art dealer Thadeus Grauer, who represented the Switzerland-based Fischer Gallery in Sao Paulo. 

Rabbi Sobel had lists of suspect works in the Museum of Art of Sao Paulo, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro and the Museum of Art of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre. The sale of looted artworks had the purpose of filling the coffers of Kamaradenwerk, an arm of the Odessa network, which was dedicated to helping Nazis hiding in Latin America after the war, Sobel said. Odessa was deactivated in 1954, but Kamaradenwerk continued operating until 1968, according to the commission.

Controversy surrounded the commission’s search, as local art dealers questioned the ability of the commission to document whether any of the art had, in fact, originally been stolen by the Nazis. Museum officials also defended themselves from charges that they were housing looted art.

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