Max and Hedwig Matheus 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.

Lovis Corinth (1858 – 1925), Autumn flowers in vase, 1924, oil on wood, 56 x 48cm
Result: € 490.500, Sale "Modern", 2018

The family of Berlin entrepreneur and art collector Max Matheus was also harassed and robbed of its fortune in the Third Reich. While his three sons could flee to the US, the parents Max and Hedwig Matheurs emigrated to Amsterdam. Yet, in Holland the spouses were arrested and murdered on 26 March 1943 at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland. The remaining assets and belongings - the considerable art collection among them - were taken possession of by the Nazi regime. It may be assumed that Lovis Corinth's still life "Autumn Flowers in a Vase" fell into the hands of Wolfgang Gurlitt. After all, he was stated as the work's provenance upon its first resurfacing after the war in the Lempertz auction of 3/4 December 1964. In the "Walter Franz" auction in June 1984, however, there was no mention of the Gurlitt provenance. Later, the Matheus family's heirs added the work to the Lost Art database, which was what alerted Van Ham to the unresolved claims to ownership. Van Ham contacted lawyer Dr. Imke Gielen (law firm von Trott zu Solz Lammek, Berlin), representative of the Matheus heirs.

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