Dagobert and Martha David Collection

VAN HAM Restitutions

During the extensive research and careful examination of the works from the collection of Friedrich Wilhelm Waffenschmidt, founder of the 'Saturn' electronics stores, Van Ham could discover two claims for restitution. Both of the two works "Garden Pub by the Havel River Below Trees" by Max Liebermann and "Autumn Flowers in a Vase" by Lovis Corinth were once owned by Jewish families that were harassed, expropriated, and murdered during the Third Reich. In June 1984, Friedrich Waffenschmidt acquired both works in good faith at the auction sale of the Walter Franz Collection at the Cologne auction house Lempertz. Now, with the help of Van Ham, a consensual agreement could be reached in each case, and both works will be up for sale in the "Modern" auction on 30 May 2018.

The painting "Garden Pub" by Max Liebermann belonged to the property of Düsseldorf banker Dagobert David and his wife Martha. On 21 April 1937, Dagobert David perished in Gestapo custody. Afterwards the Nazis seized Martha David's property. Left with nothing, she managed to make it to her brother and his family in Berlin, and could later flee to Belgium. She charged the firm Schenker & Co. with the transportation of her belongings - including 20 old master paintings and works from the 19th and 20th century. Only 17 of these arrived in Belgium, the Liebermann among them. Without any income or savings, Martha David was forced to sell the paintings at less than fair value as to ensure her survival. In 1944, she was deported to the detention and deportation camp SS-Sammellager Mecheln. Being among the small number of survivors, she could return to Brussels. It was there that her son Felix found her - he had already emigrated to England with his two siblings in 1933 - and brought her along to England. Earlier claims for compensation for the artworks sold under duress were made at the compensation authorities (Entschädigungsamt) of Berlin, but ignored since the works had not been sold in Germany. After Martha David's death in 1968, her son Felix continued the search for the missing artworks; and after his death, the David family turned to the Commission for Looted Art in Europe. The Liebermann painting was considered missing ever since the Lempertz auction in 1984. Only upon the research conducted by Van Ham's experts, hints at possible claims for restitution could be discovered, and negotiations regarding the restitution were initiated with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe. On the transparent cooperation with Markus Eisenbeis, the owner of Van Ham who immediately made both restitutions a top priority, Anne Webber of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe said: "I am very glad that we have achieved this result together. The David family and I appreciate your efforts a lot. It was a pleasure working with you."

Again, Van Ham assumed a mediating role between both parties. An amicable solution was only possible because all parties - including Van Ham - were willing to make concessions in the interest of the matter. Van Ham would like to thank everyone involved, especially the executor, for the very constructive cooperation. Van Ham also thanks the Art Loss Register in London, with which Van Ham is in active exchange and which accompanied and supported the restitution research from the beginning.

Press release