Dutch woman, 101, gets back artwork looted by Nazis, places it for auction at Sotheby’s

Edited By: Gandharv Walia
Amsterdam   Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 06:28 PM(IST)

Dutch woman gets back artwork looted by Nazis during WWII, places it for auction at Sotheby’s. Photograph:( Twitter )

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After the attack on the Netherlands, Joan stored the artwork in the Amsterdam Bank in Arnhem. From there, it was looted by Nazis. During the chaos of war, the painting disappeared. The London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe said that in the mid-1950s, it surfaced at a Düsseldorf gallery. Later, in 1969, it was auctioned in Amsterdam and was acquired by a private collector in Germany in 1971. After negotiations with the collector, the painting was returned to Bischoff van Heemskerck in 2021

The feeling of getting back a prized possession after several years was quite visible on the face of a 101-year-old Dutch woman. She had got back a painting looted by the Nazis from her father during the second world war. The artwork is the portrait of Steven Wolters, which was created by a Dutch master Caspar Netscher in 1683. Netscher’s several paintings are in the National Gallery in London. The woman, Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, is a non-practising Baptist. She joined the Dutch resistance during the war and never gave up hope to get this painting back. Now, after six months of getting the painting, she looks to place it up for auction at Sotheby’s in London to ensure her family gets the benefits of the proceeds of the sale.   

This much-loved possession of her father Joan Hendrik Smidt van Gelder was firstly placed in her childhood home in Arnhem. Joan was a doctor and director of a children’s hospital in the city. He had gone into hiding on refusing to accept orders from Nazis after Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.  

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After the attack on the Netherlands, Joan stored the artwork in the Amsterdam Bank in Arnhem. From where, it was looted by Nazis. During the chaos of war, the painting disappeared. The London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe said that in the mid-1950s, it surfaced at a Düsseldorf gallery. Later, in 1969, it was auctioned in Amsterdam and was acquired by a private collector in Germany in 1971. After negotiations with the collector, the painting was returned to Bischoff van Heemskerck in 2021.  

On seeing it again, the Dutch woman told the Guardian, “I was amazed.” Now, the painting will get auctioned it on July 6 and may fetch from £30,000 to £50,000.  

(With inputs from agencies) 

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