Cologne Returns Nazi-Looted Kokoschka Portrait of Tilla Durieux

Artinfo 19 June 2013

The city of Cologne announced on Monday that it would return Oskar Kokoschka’s “Portrait of Tilla Durieux” (1910) to the heirs of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim. The Museum Ludwig, which has housed the painting since its founding in 1976, attempted to organize a re-purchase agreement with the heirs over the past several weeks, but was unable to do so.

Speaking on behalf of the museum, its new director Dr. Philipp Kaiser explained that while it was a shame to lose such an important work, it understood the heirs’ wish to have the piece returned. “Since the founding of the Museum it has been in our permanent exhibition.  Josef Haubrich purchased the work in good faith in 1934 and gave it to the city of Cologne in 1946,“ he added.

After over four years of investigation, the Cologne City Council unanimously decided to offer the return of the painting to Flechtheim’s family on April 30, 2013. They initially requested the painting in 2008. However, as is the case with many purported pieces of Nazi loot, there were questions regarding whether the painting was indeed confiscated or if it was sold previously. In this case, the council initially concluded that one Alexander Vömel had sold the painting on Flechtheim’s behalf to Haubrich. The portrait will be returned to the heirs by the end of the week, while further works from the Haubrich collection will be on view at the Museum Ludwig during August.
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