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Hot Gurlitt Lead – Fair And Just Solution For Looted Art At Ketterer Kunst

Max Liebermann, Dorfhäuser mit Sonnenblumen, 1890. Oil/panel, 16.1x26.6 in. US$ 84,000-108,000

Munich, October 8, 2021 (KK) – The fascinating story behind Max Liebermann’s “Dorfhäuser mit Sonnenblumen“ would have never been discovered if it hadn’t been for Cornelius Gurlitt and the Schwabing Art Trove. In agreement with the heirs of the Cohn family, the oil painting will now be called up in the Ketterer Kunst auction in Munich from December 9 to 11.

“Making artworks that were subject to persecution-related loss of Jewish property marketable again is a focal point of our work“, says Robert Ketterer, auctioneer and owner of Ketterer Kunst. “This is why we have been investing a lot into provenance research over the past years. The efforts pay off in many regards and for all parties involved. In this case we were also able to mediate a fair and just solution in the sense of the Washington Principles.“

Indeed, with Max Liebermann’s “Dorfhäuser mit Sonnenblumen“ it took nearly two years of research in order to reveal the dramatic details. It all began with an inconspicuous ownership note ...

The fate of the Cohn family

The depiction of the painting in Erich Hancke‘s book ”Max Liebermann. Sein Leben und seine Werke“ carries the caption “Georg Cohn, Breslau“. The bank director Cohn, a member of the Wroclaw society circles, passed away before the Nazi reign. His widow Johanna and her daughter, the doctor Fanny Cohn, were expelled from their home by the National Socialists. Johanna died in exile while Fanny made it to Glasgow on her own, her brother Fritz and his family, however, were killed in Auschwitz. The Cohn’s painting collection was confiscated by the Gestapo in the fall of 1941 and handed over to Hermann Petschel for utilization

Initially the files did not disclose anything about the whereabouts of Max Liebermann’s early Dutch landscape. So Ketterer Kunst began to look for contemporary witnesses and found a close friend of Fanny. Luckily, the today one hundred years old lady remembered talking about the painting that was allegedly stolen by the Nazis. But there still was no proof.

Only Gurlitt brought about the solution

A hot clue was found when parallels to a famous work by Liebermann from the Schwabing Art Trove of Cornelius Gurlitt were identified. His “Reiter am Strand“ - returned in 2015 and then auctioned for € 2,600,000 - also used to be part of a collection the Gestapo confiscated in Wroclaw, the collection of David Friedmann, likewise sold through Hermann Petschel in 1942.

Is it possible that these two Breslau collections might share another station in their history? This hypothesis was indeed confirmed by information in the files of the Silesian Fine Arts Museum in Wroclaw: Petschel sold both ”Reiter am Strand“ and ”Dorfhäuser mit Sonnenblumen“ to the museum from where they found their way into the art trade with further stops in private collections in Hesse, Bavaria and Austria.

Now the mystery around Max Liebermann‘s work with the eventful history has been solved. In agreement with the heirs after Johanna Cohn, it will now be offered in the grand season final auction as another prime example of a fair and just solution that Ketterer Kunst successfully mediated in the sense of the Washington Principles.

Next to Max Liebermann, the auction includes fascinating works like Emil Nolde‘s famous “Buchsbaumgarten“ (estimate: € 1,2000,000-1,800,000), as well as Wladimir Georgiewitsch von Bechtejeff‘s painting “Leda und der Schwan“ (see separate press releases) and ”Erzgebirgslandschaft im Winter“ by Erich Heckel, both estimated at € 300,000-400,000. The array is enhanced by Gabriele Münter’s “Berglandschaft mit Haus“ (estimate: € 250,000-350,000), Imi Knoebel‘s ”Lilola“ (estimate: € 200,000-300,000) and Egon Schiele’s ”Schlafendes Mädchen“ (estimate: € 150,000-250,000).


November 18/19 – Ketterer Kunst, Hamburg
November 21/22 – Ketterer Kunst, Düsseldorf
November 24 – Galerie Schwind, Frankfurt
November 27- Dec. 2 – Ketterer Kunst, Berlin
December 04 to 10 – Ketterer Kunst, Munich

Auction in Munich
December 09 – 19th Century Art
December 10 – Modern Art / Evening Sale
December 11 – Post War / Contemporary Art

Ketterer Kunst ( and with headquarters in Munich and branches in Hamburg, Duesseldorf, Berlin as well as with a global network of representatives in, among others, the USA and Brazil, was founded in 1954. It is one of the leading houses for auctions of Fine Art from the 19th to the 21st Century and Rare Books. As market leader for Art from the 19th to the 21st Century in the German language region, the expert for German art, according to the 2020 report issued by the artprice database, is the only and strongest-selling family business represented in the global Top 10.

Client inquiries:

Ketterer KunstJoseph-Wild-Str. 18
81829 Munich
phone: +49-(0)89-552440 / fax -177

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Source: © Ketterer Kunst Auktionen


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