Or the art of shame, I should say. Possession isn’t nine-tenths of the law after all. Works of art robbed from Jewish art collectors during the Nazi-era are going like hotcakes. Out the door of German museums (where they have been hanging for decades) and then out the doors of auction houses and into the limousines of the ultra-rich, that is. A wave of restitution claims being made by the heirs of the robbed is robbing many financially challenged German museums of another valuable unnatural resource, as well: Money.

What goes around comes around, as they say. And at least everybody has hurt feelings now (and that’s the main thing). The heirs feel that they are being verarscht (made the sucker) by the museums and the museums feel they are being verarscht by the wealthy auction houses who are using these restitution claims to force this art onto the market where the museums get outgunned by the mega-rich. Oh yeah, and the viewing public loses, too.

“Everybody knows that the people behind many of these restitution claims are not really the heirs but the big auction houses,” said one official in charge of Berlin’s famous Die Brücke museum.

This may or may not be true, but stolen is stolen, right? Or wrong, I mean. Unfortunately, one could come to the conclusion that robbed art is seen here in the same way the Autobahn is seen. You know, not everything Hitler did was bad.

Come visit me at Observing Hermann…

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