The Holocaust in the Netherlands



The Holocaust in the Netherlands
The Holocaust
in the Netherlands
David Bankier
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
The Holocaust—the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis and their
collaborators during World War II—is seen by many as the defining episode of
the twentieth century. The unique kind of Jew-hatred that developed in Germany
became a central component of the Nazi regime. This led to the Nazis targeting the
Jews for absolute annihilation. Genocidal antisemitism, abetted by professional and
bureaucratic cooperation, and popular apathy toward the plight of the Jews, were
crucial elements in the implementation of the strategy of mass murder.
The Nazi party rose to power in Germany in 1933, and immediately
the government passed and enforced increasingly harsh antisemitic policies.
Consequently, by 1938 two-thirds of German Jews had left the country. On
January 30, 1939, Adolf Hitler threatened that should a world war start, it would
end with the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. When war did break out
later the same year, the Nazis reiterated their determination to search for a “Final
Solution to the Jewish Question.” In Poland, the first country conquered by the
Nazis, Jews were compelled to move to ghettoes, where they were ordered to
wear a Jewish star and to undertake forced labor. Atrocious living conditions,
overcrowding, lack of proper sanitation and health services, and meager food
rations resulted in a high mortality rate.
Hitler’s threat began to be carried out with the invasion of the Soviet
Union. On July 2, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, head of the German security service,
called for all Jews in official positions in the Soviet administration to be executed.
In reality, however, all adult, male Jews, not just those in official positions, were
shot in front of mass graves, mainly by four mobile SS units called Einsatzgruppen.
In August 1941 the killings expanded to include Jewish women and children.
On January 20, 1942, a meeting of high-ranking officials, known as the
Wannsee Conference and chaired by Heydrich, was held to discuss Hermann
Göring’s directive to prepare a European-wide Final Solution to the Jewish
Question. Heydrich announced that all Jews would be sent to slave labor in
Eastern Europe, where “a large proportion will drop out through natural
reduction.” Those who survived forced labor would have proved their physical
stamina and, for that very reason, were also to be killed.
Shortly after the Wannsee Conference, the persecution of all European Jews
intensified. First in line were the three million Polish Jews. In July 1942 Heinrich
Himmler drew up a schedule for their extermination in death camps. Three main
gassing centers were built: Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Between 750,000 and
950,000 Jews were gassed at Treblinka, between 400,000 and 500,000 at Belzec,
and 200,000 at Sobibor.1 Other camps combined forced labor and extermination
facilities. Two camps were built near Auschwitz (Oswiecim, in Polish), in Upper
Silesia, and about 1,000,000 Jews died there as a result of gassing, starvation,
and epidemics. While Polish Jews were being murdered, the program of rounding
up and deporting Jews from other parts of Europe to the killing centers and
concentration camps in Poland commenced.
In May 1940, when Germany occupied the Netherlands, the population
was 8.9 million inhabitants, of whom 140,000 (1.6 percent) were Jews. Shortly
after the invasion, the Nazis started the legal, economic, and social discrimination
against Dutch Jews and their expoliation. Deportation to the death camps of
Poland began in the summer of 1942, first from the transit camp of Westerbork,
Bankier, The Holocaust in the Netherlands
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
and in January 1943 from Vught, which was used for the same purpose. Between
July 1942 and September 1944, 107,000 Jews were deported, mainly to Auschwitz
and Sobibor. No more than 5,500 returned, and when Westerbork was liberated
on April 12, 1945, it housed only 876 inmates. Of the 28,000 Jews who tried to
hide or place their children in Christian homes, just over 16,000 survived. Thus,
of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands at the beginning of the war, only
27 percent survived.2
Holland was considered by the Nazis a “Germanic” region and therefore
came under heavy SS and Nazi party influence. The civil administration was headed
by Hitler’s plenipotentiary in the Netherlands, Reichskomissar Dr. Arthur SeyssInquart, who had considerable latitude to apply repressive policies. He conducted
a step-by-step anti-Jewish policy. In September 1940 he banned the appointment of
Jews to the Dutch administration and ordered all civil servants to declare whether
they were Jews or had a Jewish spouse. The next month, Jewish civil servants were
dismissed, and Jewish businesses were registered.
With Heydrich’s growing influence after the Wannsee Conference in
1942, the SS gained increased power over antisemitic policy in Holland. SeyssInquart almost entirely lost control of deportations, and Adolf Eichmann assumed
authority. This resulted in the introduction of the yellow star at the end of April
and the transformation, in early July, of Westerbork from a refugee camp to
a transit camp under SS command. Having completed the segregation and
preparations for deportation, Eichmann increased the tempo of the transports
by demanding the deportation of 90,000 Jews in three months.3 In Amsterdam,
arrests were carried out mainly by the SS and by pro-Nazi elements of the Dutch
National Socialists. Notorious among them was the Kolonne Henneicke, a group
of fifty-four Dutch Nazis, who hunted down Jews, paying informants and
capturing more than 8,000 men, women, and children.4
The destruction of Dutch Jewry was facilitated by the fact that the Dutch
administration, which existed alongside the German occupation force, acquiesced
to German demands. Since the royal family and the government had fled to
Britain, the general secretaries of the government ministries constituted the
highest Dutch authority in the country. Though refusing to share responsibility
for the deportations, the secretaries resigned themselves to the fact that the Jews
had been removed from their jurisdiction.5
In contrast to this collaboration, however, is the February strike of 1941,
the only mass public protest by non-Jews against deportation in the history of the
Holocaust. The arrest of 389 Jews and the brutal treatment of prisoners by the
German police on February 22 shocked the Dutch population and resulted in a
strike, which soon spread to all sectors of the population: the entire transportation
system, large factories, and public services came to a standstill. However, this strike
had far-reaching and unforeseen consequences, as the Dutch people realized that
it had had no impact on German conduct toward the Jews. Nevertheless, Dutch
rescuers did continue to aid Jews in hiding. By 1944, 20 percent of Dutch citizens
imprisoned in the Netherlands, some 1,997 people, were incarcerated for helping
When World War II was finally over and the concentration camps were
liberated, Jewish survivors joined the masses of refugees on their long trek home. In
Bankier, The Holocaust in the Netherlands
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, Jewish survivors experienced a resurgence
of antisemitism when they tried to regain their possessions. Consequently, most
survivors relinquished their claim to compensation of material loss. Even in Paris,
anti-Jewish demonstrations broke out in April 1945, when some Jews tried to
repossess their apartments. In Western countries a paradoxical situation emerged.
On the one hand, even the resistance groups that had risked their lives to help
Jews during the war now advocated that there should be no differentiation between
Jews and other victims. On the other, the same organizations demanded a clear
distinction in the terminology used for Jews and non-Jews.
The reality in the Netherlands blends into this background. The reborn
postwar Jewish community consisted of no more than 25,000 individuals: the few
thousands who survived deportation and were repatriated, those who survived in
hiding, and those who came back from exile. For many Dutch Jews, one of the
most pressing problems was the return of Nazi-confiscated assets and property.
In many cases, the attempts to recover their belongings or those of their murdered
relatives from “guardaryans” who had offered to guard them proved unsuccessful.7
Here, too, former resistance organizations and the returning government-in-exile
opposed any different treatment for Jewish survivors. In the immediate postwar
years, there was no understanding that the experiences of Jews during the
deportations had been completely different from those of other people. The
acknowledgment of the unique Jewish ordeal, the understanding of what we
call today “Holocaust” or “Shoah,” emerged only many years later.
1. Yitzhak Arad, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The
Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Bloomington,
Ind., 1999).
2. Between 105,000 and 107,000 Jews were
deported from the Netherlands, of whom 102,000
were murdered. See Jozeph Michman and Bert-Jan
Flim, eds., Encylopedia of the Righteous among the
Nations: The Netherlands (Jerusalem 2004), pp.
3. Gerhard Hirschfeld, Nazi Rule and Dutch
Collaboration: The Netherlands under German
Occupation, 1940–1945 (Oxford, 1988).
4. On the Kolonne Henneicke, see Ad van Liempt,
Hitler’s Bounty Hunters: The Betrayal of the Jews
(New York, 2005). See also Guus Meershoek, “The
Amsterdam Police and the Persecution of the Jews,”
in The Holocaust and History: The Known, the
Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined, ed.
Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck
(Bloomington, Ind., 1998), pp. 284–300, and, in
comparison, Simon Kitson, “From Enthusiasm to
Disenchantment: The French Police and the Vichy
Regime, 1940–1944,” Contemporary European
History 11, no. 3 (2002), pp. 371–90.
5. Bob Moore, “Nazi Masters and Accommodating
Dutch Bureaucrats: Working towards the Führer in
the Occupied Netherlands,” in Working towards the
Führer: Essays in Honour of Sir Ian Kershaw, ed.
Anthony McElligott and Tim Kirk (Manchester,
2004), pp. 186–204.
6. Marnix Croes, “Gentiles and the Survival Chances
of Jews in the Netherlands, 1940–1945: A Closer
Look,” in Facing the Nazi Genocide: Non-Jews and
Jews in Europe, ed. Beate Kosmala and Feliks Tych
(Berlin, 2004), pp. 41–72; and the individual stories
in Michman and Flim, Encylopedia of the Righteous
among the Nations.
7. Dienke Hondius, Return: Holocaust Survivors and
Dutch Anti-Semitism (Westport, Conn., 2003); Pieter
Lagrou, “Return to a Vanished World: European
Societies and the Remnants of Their Jewish
Communities, 1945–1947,” in The Jews Are Coming
Back: The Return of the Jews to Their Countries of
Origin after WW II, ed. David Bankier (New York
and Jerusalem, 2005), pp. 1–24.
Bankier, The Holocaust in the Netherlands
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
The Restitution of the
Goudstikker Collection
Lawrence M. Kaye
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
On February 6, 2006, two hundred old master paintings were restituted to
Marei von Saher, the daughter-in-law and sole living heir of Jacques Goudstikker,
the foremost Jewish art dealer in the Netherlands at the start of World War II—
sixty-six years after they had been looted from the Goudstikker family by
Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring as he led the Nazi onslaught into Holland in
May 1940. Some of those two hundred works are included in the extraordinary
exhibition that is described in this catalogue. The works of art on display are,
of course, spectacular; some are among the most important examples of the art
of their famous creators, yet the exhibition is about much more than art. It is a
testament to the legacy of Jacques Goudstikker and a reminder of the tragic loss
of life and identity that were the hallmark of the Holocaust. It is also a tribute
to the power of perseverance. It took just two months for the Goudstikker family
to lose virtually everything they had to the Nazis. But the efforts to recover what
was lost have outlasted the lives of Jacques, his wife, Dési, and their only son, Edo.
The restitution of the two hundred Goudstikker works in 2006 was a
historic event that ended a nearly ten-year legal and emotional struggle with the
Dutch government waged by Marei von Saher and her children to vindicate Jacques
Goudstikker’s legacy. My colleagues and I have been privileged, as lawyers, to assist
Ms. von Saher and her family in their efforts in the Netherlands and around the
world to recover the assets that were looted in 1940 by the most notorious villains
in history. In this short essay, I will briefly recount the wonderful story of Jacques
and Dési, the tragedy of the Holocaust and its impact on the Goustikker family,
and, finally, the restitution of the works to the family in the Netherlands and their
efforts worldwide to recover the approximately 1,400 works looted by the Nazis.
The Nazi art confiscation program has been called the greatest
displacement of art in human history. The volume of artworks stolen by the
Nazis during World War II from both museums and private collections throughout
Europe is staggering. This wholesale pillaging was an official Nazi policy and
not a mere by-product of war. Much of the looted art was intended to fill the
Führermuseum that Adolf Hitler was planning to build in his hometown of Linz,
Austria. The United States government has estimated that German forces and
other Nazi agents before and during World War II seized or coerced the sale of
approximately one-fifth of all Western art then in existence. If one adds books,
manuscripts, and other cultural artifacts, the number of items of property stolen
runs into the millions. The value of the looted art alone exceeded the total value
of all artwork in the United States in 1945: it has been estimated at $2.5 billion
at the time of the looting, or presently valued at $20.5 billion. It is estimated
that more than one hundred thousand artworks stolen by the Nazis have still
not been located.
Before World War II, Jacques Goudstikker had amassed an extraordinary
art collection containing approximately 1,400 works of art, mostly Dutch, Flemish,
and Italian old master paintings. The story of Jacques and Dési Goudstikker is a
panoramic saga. Jacques married the beautiful Austrian opera singer Désirée von
Halban Kurz. They lived in grand style and were the toast of Amsterdam society;
their parties at Jacques’s Nyenrode Castle were legendary. There was no equal
to Jacques in the art field. His great eye allowed him to amass one of the great
collections of his time. He was not only a dealer but was generally recognized as
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
a tastemaker and innovator. He put on exhibitions that museums simply were
not able to mount. On May 10, 1940, however, their lives took a tumultuous
turn when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.
Jacques, Dési, and Edo were at their country house, Oostermeer, on the
day of the invasion. They remained there as long as they felt they safely could,
departing on May 13 to drive into Amsterdam. Precautions had been taken: Dési
had brought with them a handbag “filled with jewelry, money and passports.”
Jacques had told her, “We don’t know if our house will still be standing when
we return from the city.” Once they reached Amsterdam, it was readily apparent
that they would have to flee the Netherlands. Jacques’s most valuable assets, the
approximately 1,400 artworks he owned, had to be left behind. He did, however,
take with him a small black leather notebook, now known as the Blackbook, that
contained an inventory of much of his collection.
The decision was made to attempt to escape by sea. Jacques’s mother,
Emilie Sellisberger Goudstikker, was with them but refused to leave. They left her
behind at the gallery. Four friends crowded into the car with them, and Jacques
drove to the port at IJmuiden. As Dési recalled, they were not alone in making
this trek: “The car ride became slower and slower. Horses, cars, oxcarts, bicycles—
everything moved in the direction of the ocean.” When they reached the port, they
managed to secure passage on the SS Bodegraven, which was heading to South
America, after stopping in England. For Jacques at least, there was only a taste
of freedom: within forty-eight hours he had broken his neck in an accidental fall
on board the ship and died. He was buried in England, at Falmouth, although Dési
was not permitted to stay for the funeral. She did, however, retrieve the Blackbook,
which would ultimately be the key document in establishing her family’s claims
to the artworks Jacques owned. After leaving her husband’s body in the care of
an undertaker in a foreign country, Dési and her son sailed across the Atlantic,
eventually settling in New York, where they remained for the duration of the war.
Shortly after the Nazi invasion in May 1940, Reichsmarschall Hermann
Göring, second in command of the Third Reich and his henchmen, looted the
paintings, drawings, antiquities, and other works of art that constituted the
Goudstikker collection. Under explicit warnings that her property and the property
that had belonged to her son would be confiscated, and worse, that she would be
“deported,” Emilie was persuaded to vote her minority block of shares in the
gallery for a “sale” of its assets to Göring and his associate, Alois Miedl, at a
fraction of their value. But Dési, who together with Edo inherited the majority of
the outstanding shares in the gallery upon Jacques’s death, specifically refused to
consent to the proposed “sale” when contacted by her husband’s former employees.
The forced “sale” to the Nazis went forward nonetheless.
Göring took approximately eight hundred of the most valuable artworks
looted from the Goudstikker collection to Germany, and many were displayed in
Karinhall, his country estate near Berlin. Miedl began operating his own art
dealership out of Jacques’s gallery, using its remaining stock, its former employees,
its infrastructure, and the goodwill of the Goudstikker name in the process.
In 1945 during the liberation of Germany after the war, Allied forces
discovered more than two hundred artworks looted by Göring and taken to
Germany and sent them to the Central Collecting Point in Munich, where recovered
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
artworks were catalogued. These and other artworks that the Nazis stole from the
Netherlands were returned to be held in trust by the Dutch government for their
lawful owners. This was accomplished pursuant to the established policy of the
Allies, which flowed from the 1943 London Declaration. The London Declaration
mandated that acts of Nazi dispossession would be undone, which in the case
of looted artworks meant that all property recovered from the Nazis would be
returned to the governments of the countries of origin so that it could be returned
to the original owners.
Dési returned to the Netherlands in 1946 with the expectation that she
would be able to reclaim her stolen property. She was met instead with great
hostility by the postwar Dutch government and confronted a “restitution” regime
that did everything in its power to make it difficult for Jews actually to recover
their property. Indeed, although the Netherlands purported to establish a sensible
restitution system as contemplated by the London Declaration, the system actually
adopted by the Dutch government did not accomplish the task. A committee
formed by the Dutch government in the late 1990s to examine postwar restitution
procedures subsequently concluded that the response of the government agency
responsible for the restitution of artworks was “legalistic, bureaucratic, cold and
often even callous,” and that the definition of “involuntary sale” used in the
postwar period was overly narrow. As a result of the Dutch government’s postwar
policies, Dési was unable to recover the works stolen by Göring that the Allied
forces returned to the Netherlands after the war. The Dutch government kept
the works in the national collection but never obtained legal title to them.
The Göring works returned after the war (except for a few that were
disposed of by the Dutch government) remained in the custody of the Dutch
national collection for almost sixty years. Both Dési and Edo died in 1996.
Following their deaths, Ms. von Saher learned about the Goudstikker works in
the Dutch government’s custody from a Dutch journalist, Pieter den Hollander,
who had been researching the Goudstikker story and ultimately published a
book chronicling its history.
During the late 1990s, there was a critical reexamination of claims to
artworks looted during World War II and, as a result, a new movement to restitute
artworks that had been looted by the Nazis but not returned to their true owners
after the war began to take shape. This new focus on the Holocaust was the result
of several factors. Perhaps the most important of these was that scholars and
journalists took advantage of the opening of previously closed archives to
reexamine postwar history. Lynn H. Nicholas’s The Rape of Europa: The Fate
of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War, published in
1994, was a pioneering study that set the stage for what was to follow. In January
1995 the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts in New York
City held a symposium entitled “The Spoils of War,” at which many papers
examining issues related to looted art were presented. (The proceedings were
published two years later in a book of the same name.) Also in 1995 Konstantin
Akinsha and Grigori Koslov, working with Sylvia Hochfeld, published Beautiful
Loot: The Soviet Plunder of Europe’s Art Treasures. Hector Feliciano’s book, The
Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World’s Greatest Works of Art,
followed in 1997. In 1998 the U.S. government hosted the Washington Conference
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
on Nazi Looted Assets, at which representatives of forty-four countries met to
discuss how to deal with Nazi-looted assets, including artworks.
Responding to renewed concerns about the treatment of claimants in
the postwar period, in October 1997 the Dutch government announced a new
policy that allowed claims to be made for the restitution of artworks that had been
returned to the Netherlands following the war but never restituted to their rightful
owners. In January 1998, with the assistance of her Dutch counsel Prof. H. M. N.
Schonis and R. O. N. van Holthe, Ms. von Saher presented a claim to the State
Secretary in charge of Cultural Affairs for the return of the Goudstikker works
that remained in the custody of the Dutch government. Her application was denied,
and several different proceedings taken to overturn that decision were also decided
against her. In 2002, after years of defeat and frustration, the Dutch government
adopted new restitution guidelines in response to the Washington Conference that
gave Ms. von Saher some hope. She filed an application under those guidelines in
2004 and spent two more years fighting the case in the Netherlands. This effort
culminated in a hearing before the Dutch Restitutions Committee, which issued
its advice in December 2005 substantially in Ms. von Saher’s favor. That advice,
however, was kept confidential pending a final decision by the Dutch government.
Under the Dutch government’s current restitution regime, the Restitutions
Committee’s advice is submitted to the State Secretary for the Ministry of
Education, Culture and Science, who then decides whether to accept the advice.
Knowing the Restitutions Committee’s advice had been rendered but not yet
knowing what it was, Ms. von Saher traveled to The Hague on Wednesday,
February 1, 2006, with the expectation that a decision was imminent. But delays
ensued; rumors were rampant. On Monday, February 6, 2006, she gathered with
her family, friends, lawyers, and other advisers, locally and from the United States.
Finally, at about 4:00 p.m., the call from the State Secretary came. In a hushed
room, Dick Schonis, Ms. von Saher’s lead Dutch lawyer, took the call, listened,
and then raised his hand in relief and victory. He announced that the Dutch
government was restituting two hundred Goudstikker works to Ms. von Saher.
Screams and tears ensued; after years of battle—and almost sixty-six years since
the Nazi looting—justice was finally achieved.
A great story with a happy ending? Certainly, it is a great story, and the
restitution of artworks by the Dutch government was a happy event, although
Jacques, Dési, and Edo were not present to witness this historic development.
But the Dutch restitution is by no means the end of the Goudstikker saga.
More than one thousand of the looted works were not found by the Allies
and remain missing. The family is committed to locating and recovering these
assets and has engaged the noted art recovery specialist Clemens Toussaint, who
put together an expert team of art researchers and historians. Working in archives
throughout Europe and the United States, they are conducting a massive research
project to identify and locate the missing works. Their efforts, reported in The New
York Times and numerous other publications, are among the more comprehensive
research initiatives ever to track down a single-owner art collection stolen by the
Nazis. It is the family’s goal to find and recover every single work. The painstaking
work by Mr. Toussaint and his team is recounted in vivid detail in his essay in this
volume. Here, we wish to note just a few of the successes achieved as a result
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
of the combined efforts of the family, the historians, and the lawyers.
The very first restitution came in the spring of 2002, when Jan de Cock’s
Temptation of St. Anthony was returned. The painting was discovered as part of
an estate sale at Christie’s, which was notified by the London-based Art Loss
Fig. 1
Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi, called Donatello
(Florentine, 1386–1466)
The Madonna and Child
Terracotta relief, 81 x 50.8 cm
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
Register about the painting’s Goudstikker provenance. Christie’s approached the
representatives of the estate, who entered into negotiations with us, as Ms. von
Saher’s attorneys, and finally decided to restitute the work. Other restitutions
In 2005 the Israel Museum in Jerusalem restituted a charcoal drawing by
Edgar Degas, donated to the museum in the 1970s. The museum took the matter
very seriously and, after meeting with me in Jerusalem, worked closely with the
Goudstikker research team, which presented photographic research the team had
located. The museum was able to determine that the drawing it had was indeed the
missing Goudstikker work and not a similar drawing by Degas. As the museum
stated at the time, it is critically important to address the subject of restitution in
an appropriate fashion, noting that it was gratified to have been able to respond
effectively to Ms. von Saher’s claim and hopeful that its positive response to the
claim would support the ongoing effort to set
standards for the field.
In early 2006 the resolution of Ms. von
Saher’s claim to an extraordinary terracotta relief
of the Madonna and Child by Donatello (fig. 1)
demonstrated the new global partnership that
has developed in recent years to stop the traffic
in Nazi-looted art and ensure equitable results.
A rare work, it was in the Goudstikker collection
in 1940 when it was looted by the Nazis and then
disappeared. The piece was offered to Sotheby’s
in New York for sale. Sotheby’s recognized it as
a possible looted Goudstikker work and told the
consignor that it must get in touch with Ms. von
Saher’s attorneys. When the consignor did, with the
goodwill of all involved, the claim was resolved, the
piece was sold with the involvement of Ms. von
Saher, and the Goudstikker provenance noted.
The restitution of a painting by Rachel
Ruysch is worth mentioning because it shows what
can happen when a public institution, confronted
with a claim for displaced cultural property, focuses
not on legal or moral defenses but rather on the
pure notion that such displacement is a crime,
not just against the original owners but against
humankind. The Goudstikker research team
identified Still Life with Flowers, dating from
1690, by one of the few female old masters,
Rachel Ruysch, in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister,
Dresden (Toussaint essay, fig. 5). It was suspected
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
and confirmed to be a looted Goudstikker picture because it still had the
Goudstikker label on the back, although looted sixty-five years earlier. The
museum was contacted, and it took the Goudstikker claim very seriously. Not
wanting looted Nazi art in its collection under any circumstances, the museum
quickly returned the work to Ms. von Saher without the need for legal action.
Indeed, the negotiations took place in Dresden at a conference on art at which
I delivered a paper on the restitution of Nazi loot. The decision to restitute the
Ruysch work was made moments before I delivered the paper and was announced
from the podium and greeted with great applause.
There were innumerable cases in many countries from the Nazi era where
deserving claims were met with indifference or hostility immediately following the
war. Some, like the Goudstikker case in the Netherlands, have now been at least
partially resolved chiefly because governments were willing to accept responsibility
for past errors and to “do the right thing.” But many outstanding claims still
require appropriate attention. (Indeed, as we have seen, hundreds of other works
looted from the gallery have never been accounted for and are still being sought.)
Marei von Saher has always viewed the Goudstikker case as both a personal quest
to have her family’s heritage restored and as an example to others whose families
were victims of the Nazis. Her hope is to have Jacques Goudstikker’s reputation
returned to its proper place in history and to show others what perseverance can
accomplish. For her, this exhibition of restituted paintings is another important
step toward meeting those two goals.
Kaye, The Restitution of the Goudstikker Collection
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
The Jacques Goudstikker Collection
and Nazi Art Looting
Yehudit Shendar and Niv Goldberg
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 1
“Eine Stimme,” poem written to Dési von Halban
Kurz by Jacques Goudstikker, July 25, 1937.
Fig. 2
Dési and Eduard in the Netherlands. Photograph
I adore [Holland] more than anything and [it] has always been so good to me.
—Jacques Goudstikker
Jacques Goudstikker was, without question, an astute man. This is clearly borne
out by the enormous success of the art and antiques business he inherited from his
father, which he turned into one of the leading and most influential galleries in the
Netherlands in his time (Sutton essay, fig. 33). But his wisdom can also, and most
importantly, be seen in the foresight he displayed by taking steps to ensure his
family’s future should Holland fall to the Germans. In a love poem he wrote to
his wife Dési on July 25, 1937 (fig. 1), he already expressed his concerns: “Despite
all the joy, despite the sunshine, there is a note of anxiety, a fear of the imminent
storm.”1 Well aware of what the German occupation of Holland would mean for
him and his business, Jacques arranged for a safe haven, procuring visas for the
United States for himself, his wife, and his son on November 28, 1939 (fig. 2).2 In
addition, he purchased tickets on the SS Simon Bolivar,3 shipped several works of
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
art to England, and transferred money to an American bank account.4 Nonetheless,
the German occupation of Holland on May 10, 1940, took even this man, who
Fig. 3
Jacques Goudstikker’s immigration visa to the
United States of America.
imagined he had prepared for any contingency, by surprise. The visas in his hand
(fig. 3) had expired on May 9,5 and the renewed documents were waiting for him
at the consulate in Rotterdam; however, he was no longer able to collect them:6
“We were totally surrounded. It was impossible to get to Rotterdam, which was
under heavy bombardment. All the avenues for leaving the country were closed
off.”7 In her memoirs, Dési describes the idyllic days before the occupation: “So
much beauty, so much love around us and within us.”8 But then she adds the
chilling words: “We wanted to take our own lives in case the Germans occupied
Holland. We wanted to live, but only as free citizens.” Although many of their
friends left the Netherlands, Jacques’s heart belonged to the country; “I adore
[Holland] more than anything and [it] has always been so good to me,” he wrote.9
“Our last May days in Holland,”10 as Dési calls them, were a trying time
for the family, who had always had a busy social life and lacked for nothing. In a
letter he wrote to a friend on May 6, 1940, Jacques spoke of his forebodings for
the future: “The question is whether the latest developments will be limited to
Europe alone . . . or will encompass the whole world. . . . I have made
arrangements, but I find the constant uncertainty very unsettling.”11 They were
soon confronted with the reality of the situation, when the air rang with the roar
of planes and machine guns. “As for us,” Dési wondered, “do we fully understand
what is going to happen to us?”12 But Jacques, a man of action and vision, foresaw
the coming events. He took leave of his mother and co-workers and quickly piled
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
his family, along with a few colleagues from the art world,
into their Lincoln Zephyr, and headed for the port of
IJmuiden. Proceeding slowly, they made their way through
the sea of refugees that filled the roads, until they were forced
to abandon the luxury car in the high grass of the seaside
dunes.13 With their son Eduard, only sixteen months old,
in Dési’s arms, they boarded the cargo ship SS Bodegraven
(fig. 4) on May 13, 1940, a mere three days after the German
army had entered Holland. They departed without the
essential documents: valid visas and an official power of
attorney naming an executor of the large estate left behind in
Holland, which included personal property, their extravagant
houses, and the business with the many important works of
art adorning its walls and stored in its cellars. Only later
would it emerge that Jacques had with him a hidden treasure in the form of a
small notebook, the pages of which carefully recorded the details of most of the
approximately 1,400 artworks that remained behind in Holland (fig. 5). “In these
times, justice has sunk forever into the void of oblivion. . . . Perhaps some cork
will enable us to float, and as long as we can swim, we will get by,”14 he wrote
to a friend.
Fig. 4
The SS Bodegraven. Photograph
Fig. 5
Jacques Goudstikker’s inventory notebook, the
Blackbook. Photograph
Jacques’s hasty departure left the business in turmoil. He had made all
the necessary arrangements to entrust it to the loyal hands of his best friend, the
attorney Dr. A. Sternheim, providing him with a document giving him full power of
attorney to administer all his property. Unfortunately, however, on May 10, the day
of the invasion, Sternheim suffered a heart attack, fell from his bicycle, and died.15
Jacques did not appoint a successor to Dr. Sternheim and, contrary to his usual
practice, Jacques did not formalize any arrangements with anyone. This was not
an oversight but rather a deliberate measure meant to ensure that he did not leave
anyone with the authority to negotiate with the Germans in his name, a fact
attested to after the war by August Eduard Dimitrios von Saher, Dési’s second
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
husband, with whom Jacques had consulted for legal advice for
the gallery before the war. In effect, the decision is an indication
that Jacques, known for his competence, meticulousness, and
controlling nature, did not entirely trust the loyalty of his senior
employees. Nevertheless, following his departure, two of his
employees, Jan Dik Sr., the conservator, and Arie Albertus ten
Broek, who was to become the acting manager, took it upon
themselves to manage the firm. According to von Saher,
“Jacques left Holland and no one had power of attorney to
act on his behalf.”16 This precaution was taken “so as not to
appoint anyone the enemy could get their claws into.”17
Jacques was on board the ship with the people closest
to him, his beloved wife and son. Things seemed to be going
relatively well as he and his family sailed away from occupied
Holland. On the morning of May 15, having survived a
nighttime raid by German bombers, the ship anchored in
Dover, where “the sun shone . . . we were overwhelmed by
happiness . . . we were free in England!”18 But their joy did
not last long. None of the many Jewish refugees from all over
Europe on the SS Bodegraven was allowed to set foot on British
soil without the proper visa. “Such a disappointment,” Jacques
related, “but we must not lose courage.”19 Helpless to change
the situation, the small Goudstikker family crowded into the
hold of the ship with the other refugees and prepared to spend
the night there. Little Edo was crying inconsolably, and Dési
was waiting for Jacques to return. He had gone up on deck to
breathe a bit of fresh air. What happened on the night between
May 15 and 16, the very day of Holland’s capitulation to the
Germans, was recorded in the ship’s log (fig. 6):
On this sixteenth day of May, Nineteen Hundred and
Forty, on board of the above mentioned steamship,
presently being in the English Channel, appeared before
Fig. 6
Extract from the day register of the SS Bodegraven
ship’s log, May 16, 1940, recording Jacques
Goudstikker’s death.
me, Huibrecht Regoort, Master of the above mentioned
craft, Piet Ruig, 1st Officer [and] Jan Daniel Filarski,
Boatswain, who have declared that, Jacques Goudstikker,
passenger, lately domiciled at Ouderkerk aan den Amstel,
on the sixteenth day of May 1900 and Forty at one
o’clock in the morning, passed away on the above
mentioned vessel, at the age of 42 years, married to
Désirée Louise Anna Ernestina Halban, son of Eduard
Goudstikker and Emmy Sellisberger.
We have of this made this statement and we have signed
this together with the appearers after reading aloud.
H. Regoort
P. Ruig
J. D. Filarski20
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 7
Jacques Goudstikker’s fresh grave, with flowers.
Fig. 8
Proclamation of induction as a Knight in the
Order of Oranje-Nassau.
Fig. 9
Certified copy of Entry of Death for Jacques
Goudstikker in the Register Book of Deaths for the
Sub-district of Falmouth.
As Désirée describes that night: “We found your husband. Where? How? Is he
alright? . . . They took me to a cabin. He was lying there . . . with his sardonic
smile on his face . . . Jacques was dead.”21 The captain decided to make an
unscheduled stop at the military port of Falmouth in southwest England. Désirée,
whose Austrian passport branded her the citizen of a hostile nation, was not given
permission to go ashore to be present at her husband’s interment. She asked that
the grave be covered with flowers (fig. 7), that he be buried with the cufflinks she
had given him as a wedding present, and that they play his favorite song, Cole
Porter’s “Night and Day.” On a hillside facing the sea, Jacques Goudstikker, the
distinguished scion of a Dutch dynasty who had been knighted by the queen of
Holland (fig. 8)22 and was esteemed as an eminent figure in the Dutch cultural
world (Sutton essay, fig. 7), was laid to rest in a foreign land. The man forced to
flee his homeland because he was a Jew, whose ancestors appear in the records
of the Dutch Jewish community from the eighteenth century, and whose fate was
sealed by the German occupation, like that of most of the Jews of Holland, of
whom some 102,200 were murdered, was buried in the south of England, far from
his loved ones and far from his roots (fig. 9).23 “I think of you / Day and night,
night and day.”24
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
If international Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed once again in
plunging the nations into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of
the world and thus a Jewish victory, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race
in Europe. . . .
—Adolf Hitler, speech to the Reichstag, January 30, 1939
The fate of the Goudstikkers during the Holocaust, like that of all the Jews in
Europe, was in the hands of the Nazi extermination machine that sought to wipe
them off the face of the earth. To this end, they developed a coherent ideology and
a civil and military hierarchy to put it into practice, including engineers to design
and construct the most efficient apparatus for this national objective. Six million
of Europe’s Jews were murdered in the course of twelve years of mobocracy
orchestrated by Adolf Hitler, whom the German citizens had elected as their Führer
in 1933. Those same citizens filled the ranks of the executioners and cheered their
leader’s orations, dripping with hatred of the Jews.
The following history of the Goudstikker family draws on a variety of
written sources and the oral testimony of survivors. Although the information
is incomplete, it offers a picture of the fate of a single family that had been fully
integrated into Dutch society for hundreds of years. Only a few members of this
illustrious family survived the inferno of Nazism.
The first documented mention of the Goudstikker name in the Netherlands
appears in a surviving record of the Amsterdam Jewish community from 1797,
which notes the marriage of Lea Hartog Hirsch Goudstikker.25 Six years later, the
record of the marriage of her sister, Marianne Mindele Hartog Hirsch Goudstikker,
provides us with the origin of the family name: their father, Hartog Hirsch Mozes
Goudstikker, who accompanied the bride, is noted as having previously changed his
name from Goldstikker,26 the name to which he was born in Tielen (most likely in
Germany), about 1750.27 Marianne Mindele’s husband, Samuel Samson Salomon,
took the unusual step of adopting his wife’s surname, and so the Goudstikker
name was passed on through their children. The earliest known civil document
containing mention of the name is a marriage registration from the town of ’s
Hertogenbosch in the Noordbrabant district dated 1840.28 It lists Salomon Elias
Sussan as the father of the groom, Elias Salomon Goudstikker, in what appears
to be his second marriage.
Surviving family trees reveal an interesting fact: Samuel Samson Salomon
was the older half brother of Elias Salomon, as both men had the same father,
Salomon Elias Sussan. Thus Elias Salomon apparently followed in the footsteps
of his older brother Samuel Samson and also took his wife’s surname, thereby
creating a second branch of the Goudstikker family. Elias Salomon Goudstikker
was the great-grandfather of Jacques Goudstikker. Born in 1800, he died in 1878,
some eleven years before Jacques was born.
Although the Dutch Goudstikkers celebrated the birth of many children
in the generations to come, they remained a relatively small family, with only
these two main branches. The first branch, the descendants of Elias Salomon
Goudstikker, was split between Amsterdam and ’s Hertogenbosch, whereas almost
all the members of the second branch, descending from the older half brother
Samuel Samson, resided in Bergen op Zoom. These three towns form what is
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
nearly an equilateral triangle, with Amsterdam in the north, ’s Hertogenbosch in
the southeast, and Bergen op Zoom in the southwest, each located at a distance
Fig. 10
Emilie Goudstikker née Sellisberger. Photograph
of seventy to ninety kilometers from the others.
Goudstikker couples in the nineteenth century gave birth to five to ten
children. However, from the limited sources available, it appears that a rather large
proportion of the children in the next three generations either never married or
did not perpetuate the family line. Furthermore, as is typical of the early twentieth
century, the number of children per household shrank, and the Goudstikker line
consisted of the two- or three-child family units emblematic of the modern era. Also
typical of the time was the fact that many of the children born to later generations
married outside the Jewish faith and assimilated into the general population.29
Before World War II, the overall picture painted of the Goudstikkers by
existing records is that of a well-to-do family. Where family members’ occupations
are listed in historical records, we find many merchants, manufacturers, and the
like. They were not, for the most part, however, overly comfortable. Family
members who lived during the prewar era remember considerable variation in
the economic status of the expanding branches of the family.30 Not only was there
economic disparity between the members of the family, but there was significant
social distance as well. In her memoirs, Dési relates a telling episode aboard the
SS Bodegraven. There were other Goudstikkers on the ship, and when she asked
Jacques if he wanted to talk to them, he replied: “I have managed to not speak to
them for years, and I’m certainly not going to do so now.”31 His death at the age
of forty-two, less than two days later, left his widow destitute and alone.
The sky is full of birds, the purple lupins stand up so regally and peacefully, . . .
the sun is shining on my face—and right before our eyes, mass murder. The whole
thing is simply beyond comprehension.
—Etty Hillesum, Westerbork Transition Camp32
Jacques’s untimely death was a sad anticlimax to his life. This book and exhibition
tell his story and are a tribute to his accomplishments and his status in Dutch
society. At the same time, they throw light on the life of the Jews in the Netherlands
and the tragedy that befell them with the German occupation. Indeed, the annals of
the Goudstikker family encapsulate the story of the Jewish community of Holland
as a whole, and the cruel fate it suffered: 73 percent of Dutch Jews lost their lives
in the Holocaust.
At the outbreak of the war, twenty-seven people residing in the
Netherlands and identifiably Jewish bore the name of Goudstikker, having been
born into the family or married into it. Of these, sixteen are known to have died
in the Holocaust. Jacques Goudstikker met his death while fleeing the Germans.
His wife and infant son were the only members of the family to successfully make
it to an Allied country, sailing from England to Canada where they stayed for some
months with the Bronfman family before finally settling in the United States. The
other Goudstikkers who survived the Holocaust consisted of Albert, who served in
the merchant marine during the war, and a mere seven who survived in Continental
Europe, all but one of whom, Jacques’s mother, Emilie (fig. 10), were interned in
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
concentration camps. Many more family members bearing the names Duyzend,
Boedekker, and others as a result of marriage perished as well.
Personal testimonies and existing documentation, sparse as they are,
Fig. 11
Card indicating Henri Goudstikker’s deportation
from Westerbork to Auschwitz, compiled by the
International Tracing Service of the International
Red Cross, Bad Arolsen, Germany.
provide an indication of the fate of two Goudstikker families headed by the cousins
Henri and Maurits Henri. Henri was born in 1891 in Bergen op Zoom to Salomon
and Roosje Goudstikker. He was the fifth of ten children, one of whom died young
and four of whom later married non-Jews. Henri married Helen Gompers, the
daughter of a diamond merchant, who was born in New York in 1896. Perhaps
because her family was in the United States only temporarily, Helen did not have
American citizenship (or at least any proof thereof). The couple had four children,
all boys: Salomon Henri, born in 1920; Hermann, born in 1924; Jacques, born in
1925; and Benjamin Henri, born in
1926. They moved to The Hague in
1930 and were living there at the time
of the German occupation. Benjamin,
Herman, and Jacques were picked up
together in August 1942 and taken to
the Westerbork transit camp. Their
parents went into hiding but were
ultimately betrayed by the owner of
the house where they were staying,
and they too were taken to Westerbork.
The three brothers were all sent to
Auschwitz: Benjamin in August 1942;
Jacques on September 7, 1942; and
Hermann on October 10, 1942.33 Each
of them was sent to the gas chambers
on the day of arrival. Their father,
Henri, was transported to Auschwitz on November 30, 1942 (fig. 11),34 arriving
on December 3. He survived until January 11, 1943—precisely five weeks. Their
mother, Helen, was sent to Auschwitz on January 21, 1943, and was never heard
of again. The sole surviving member of this family was Salomon Henri, who fled to
Switzerland in October 1941. He was married there and then managed to make his
way across France to Spain, where he boarded a ship for England. He returned to
Holland in 1953 and immigrated to Israel in 1963. Known today as Shlomo
Gidron, he is still unable to share more than the barest of details about his
harrowing escape from Europe.
Maurits Henri Goudstikker was born to Henri and Flora, née Hirschel,
Goudstikker in Bergen op Zoom in 1893, the youngest of three children. He
married Frederika Duyzend, and the couple had two children, Flory Ella, born in
1924, and Henri Jacob, born in 1927. The family remained in Bergen op Zoom,
where Maurits Henri held a respected position as a bank branch manager.
Foreseeing the German invasion and its consequences for Dutch Jewry, Maurits
Henri arranged for American visas for the family, but events moved too quickly.
The bombing of Rotterdam made it impossible for them to take possession of these
valuable documents. The extended family managed to acquire false papers and lived
under assumed identities until September 1942, when they were informed on and
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
taken to Westerbork. From there, Alida, Maurits Henri’s older
sister, was sent to Sobibor on May 28, 1943, where she was
immediately murdered. The grandmother, Flora Hirschel, died
in Buchenwald on August 1, 1943.35 Maurits Henri, Frederika,
and their two children were piled onto the last transport from
Westerbork to the Theresienstadt Ghetto on September 6,
1944.36 Just three weeks later, on October 1, Maurits Henri and
his son, Henri Jacob, were transported to Auschwitz.37 On their
arrival, Maurits Henri was sent to the gas chambers. Henri
Jacob was given prisoner number B-11178 and assigned to the
Arbeitskommando Golleschau (fig. 12), a forced labor detail at
the Auschwitz subcamp of that name.38 On January 21, 1945,
in advance of the approaching Soviet troops, he was herded
onto a train with more than one hundred other prisoners. They
rode for some eight days and nights without food or water in
subzero temperatures. When the train arrived in Zwittau, near
the Brunnlitz subcamp of Gross-Rosen, which was established
by Oskar Schindler, Schindler managed
to have it rerouted to Brunnlitz.39 The
survivors of this journey, including
Henri Goudstikker, were ultimately
saved by appearing on Oskar
Fig. 12
Card indicating Henri Jacob Goudstikker’s
assignment to the Arbeitskommando Golleschau at
Auschwitz, compiled by the International Tracing
Service of the International Red Cross, Bad Arolsen,
Fig. 13
Page 13 of Schindler’s List; Henryk [Henri]
Goudstikker is listed as number 740.
Fig. 14
Page of testimony filled by a family member in
memory of Frederika Goudstikker, née Duyzend,
Yad Vashem Hall of Names.
Schindler’s famous list of supposedly
vital workers (fig. 13).40 Henri
Goudstikker died of tuberculosis
shortly after liberation. On October 6,
1944, less than one week after her
husband and son had been sent to
Auschwitz, Frederika and her daughter
Flory Ella followed them there on
Transport Eo from Theresienstadt.41
Frederika was immediately sent to the
gas chambers (fig. 14). Two weeks
later, Flory was assigned to forced labor
in eastern Germany and was eventually
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
liberated by the Soviet army. After the war, Flory returned to the Netherlands,
where she married Philip Wagenaar, a Dutch Holocaust survivor, and soon
thereafter they moved to the United States.
With the exception of Jacques Goudstikker’s immediate family, no other
member of this entire Goudstikker branch is mentioned in any available wartime
records. Almost all the existing documentation from the period of World War II
and the Holocaust refers to the branch descended from Samuel Samson Salomon
Goudstikker, the elder half brother of Jacques Goudstikker’s great-grandfather.
Unlike many of his relations, Jacques Goudstikker did not die a direct
victim of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the circumstances of his death are associated
with the events of that time. He could never have imagined he would meet his end
in the way he did, nor would he have wished their fate on his wife and only son.
When the SS Bodegraven docked in Liverpool in May 1940, Dési and the baby
were taken off and detained as aliens in an old-age home because of her Austrian
passport.42 Despite her connections with influential individuals, including the
American ambassador Joseph Kennedy, her visa was not renewed. The widow and
her orphaned son made their way to Canada and, from there, finally found the
haven they sought in the United States, arriving bereft of family and fortune.
Let me live modestly, but in peace. I had property. I don’t need it any more.
—Jacques Goudstikker
On February 6, 2006, banner headlines around the world brought news of a
dramatic decision taken by the government of the Netherlands: 202 artworks listed
in the national registry of Dutch cultural assets that had been stolen by the Nazis
from the collection of the Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker would be returned
to their rightful owner in the United States, Marei von Saher. Nearly sixty-six years
had passed since May 16, 1940, the day Jacques Goudstikker fell to his death while
fleeing the Nazis, until his daughter-in-law, Marei von Saher, could issue a public
statement on February 11, 2006, declaring: “[We] fought long and hard to see
justice done. . . . It wasn’t about money, it was about right being honored. I only
wish that my husband was still alive to celebrate this victory.”43
The family had waged a legal battle for eight years, demanding the return
of more than two hundred works of art from the Goudstikker collection, which had
been handed over to the Dutch authorities by the Allies in 1946 to be restored to
their owners. Now that the fight was over, Marei stressed that the victory did not
belong to the family alone, proclaiming: “The Dutch government’s return of these
pictures was an historic event for us and for all families whose possessions were
stolen during the Holocaust era.”44
The gravity of the government’s decision found expression in the words
of the Dutch Deputy Minister of Culture at the time, Medy van der Laan, who
described it as “a cultural bloodletting,”45 an indication of the importance of the
works of art that would now be taken down from the walls of Holland’s leading
museums. Thus began the complex and emotional process of collecting the
artworks from the various museums. As one by one the paintings made their way
to the assembly point at the Instituut Collectie Nederland (Institute of Cultural
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Heritage) near The Hague, the Goudstikker collection gradually took shape and
was ultimately revealed once again in all its glory. It is a collection rare not only
Fig. 15
Jacques Goudstikker’s business card.
in breadth but also in the quality of each work, a collection built with love and
expertise by Jacques Goudstikker over the course of many years. What is indicated
by the bold lettering of the J. Goudstikker Gallery’s calling card, that the gallery
that was founded in 1845 dealt in old master paintings from all periods, was
unexpectedly brought back to life.46 The reassembling of the collection recrowned
the long-dead Jacques as the classic art dealer he was, a man who framed the very
definition of culture (fig. 15).
The family’s struggle to regain possession of the paintings actually began
in 1946, when Dési first returned to Holland after the war. She was appalled to
discover that her estates and gallery had been completely emptied, leaving no trace
of the art collection, the furniture, the family’s treasures, or any of their personal
possessions. It had all been looted. “Everything was gone,” reported Marei von
Saher. “But a person from the gallery came out with a big blanket under his arm
and in it was a painting of two young girls by Berthe Morisot.”47 Dési’s efforts to
recover the family property, including the artworks, were all in vain. Although a
very small number of artworks were returned to her in 1952, she went to her death
in 1996 with the sense that justice had not been done. “I was just angry,” recalls
her granddaughter Charlène. “I felt that my grandmother wasn’t treated fairly after
the war.”48 In De Zaak-Goudstikker (The Goudstikker Case), published in 1998,
Pieter den Hollander confirms that the numerous postwar commissions established
to consider the claims of Holland’s Jewish citizens for the return of plundered
property were not sympathetic toward the applicants.49 In response to such charges,
the Dutch government resolved in 2004 to refer the matter to the Advisory
Committee on the Assessment for Items of Cultural Value and the Second World
War (Restitutions Committee), which had been set up in late 2001 and, at the time
of the restitution, was chaired by Mr. B. J. Asscher, an attorney and former
president of the District Court of Amsterdam. In December 2005 the committee
recommended that 202 paintings “acquired” by Göring be restored to the heirs.
The government’s statement that the works of art would be returned to the family
came less than two months later, with headlines in the press announcing that the
saga had finally come to an end. “I was in Holland a few days ago and saw the
paintings for the first time. Some hit my heart right away. It was overwhelming,”
related Marei von Saher.50
“When Goudstikker’s body was recovered, a little black book was found
in his breast pocket.”51 The leather-bound notebook (fig. 5), measuring a mere
4 3/4 by 7 inches and filled with pages of dense typing, is the true protagonist of
the drama of the Jacques Goudstikker collection, which was played out in so many
acts. It contained an itemized inventory, organized in columns, that listed the title
of the artwork, its dimensions, the date of its purchase, and the price paid, in code.
Under the letter R appeared names with which every art lover is familiar: Raphael,
Rembrandt, Rubens, and Jacob van Ruisdael; under D were Donatello and several
mentions of Anthony van Dyck. These are only a few examples of the great names
that filled the pages of the notebook. Listed alphabetically by the artist’s surname
were 1,113 of the artworks left behind in the gallery on the Herengracht in
Amsterdam to await their owner’s return.
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Even after so many years have passed, the mere facts are chilling.
Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring knocked on the door of the J. Goudstikker
Antiques and Art Gallery at 458 Herengracht in Amsterdam just two weeks after
the death of the proprietor. Walter Andreas Hofer, a Berlin art dealer appointed
curator of Göring’s country estate, Karinhall, had already traveled to Holland on
May 20. A week later, Göring made the first of many visits to the Netherlands,
where he had quite a few friends.
The same reputation that had brought museum directors and collectors
to the gallery before the war now drew Göring the “art lover,” and he was eager
to see for himself the treasures of the Jew Goudstikker, hastening to the address
before anyone else could beat him to it. He was intent on obtaining for his private
collection at Karinhall the paintings that would be left after Hitler selected the ones
he wanted for the museum in Linz. In a letter dated August 22, 1940, Hans Posse,
the director of the Linz collection, confirmed the arrival of artworks in Berlin: “As
per the instructions of the Führer, I have examined the seventy-five works displayed
at the Führer’s residence, some of which I was familiar with from Holland. . . .
Most of them are the remainders of collections that come from art dealers in
Holland (mostly from the collection of Goudstikker, Amsterdam).”52 Since Hitler’s
appetite for Dutch art was well known, there was little doubt that once Holland
was occupied the artworks in that country would be looted on a massive scale.
Indeed, in early June, less than one month after the occupation, Dr. Kejetan
Muhlmann, a crony of Posse’s, arrived in Berlin. Director of the Dienststelle
Muhlmann, the authority responsible for the sale of the property of Dutch Jews
who had fled abroad, he reported that large quantities of art could be acquired
in occupied Holland.53
In the wake of his “visit,” Göring indeed “acquired” the artworks in the
Goudstikker Gallery collection in exchange for an astonishingly small sum,54 a
fraction of its true worth. In fact, the gallery was the source of the largest number
of “acquisitions” made for his private museum. Approximately 1,400 items, mostly
paintings,55 were the subject of the “sale” arranged by Göring’s agent, Walter
Andreas Hofer. This was a typical example of a “forced sale,” a tactic often
employed by occupiers and perfected by the Nazis for the legal theft of artworks.
An American investigation unit established after the Allied victory articulated in
very clear language the methods used by the Germans to give the appearance of
legality to their criminal acts of plunder: “Thus no art collection or single work
was seized, requisitioned or robbed by them without their ‘legalizing’ these crimes
by some sort of sales certificate or exchange paper duly signed by their victims
through force.”56
Jacques Goudstikker’s “loyal” employees, Jan Dik Sr. and Arie Albertus
ten Broek, “sold” the contents of the gallery to Göring and his confederate, the
German-born banker Alois Miedl. Through trickery and connivance, Dik and ten
Broek transferred everything to Miedl: not only the property but the name and
reputation of the company as well;57 the artworks went to Göring. Not only was
the “sale” accomplished hastily in order to anticipate the sharp rise in the Dutch
art market that followed the occupation,58 but those who stood to benefit from
the looting spread the false rumor that the gallery was experiencing financial
difficulties59 and was on the brink of bankruptcy, thereby causing a drop in the
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
value of its assets. The monetary transfers involved were conducted by Lipmann,
Rosenthal Co., the “official” bank operating under the auspices of the Dienststelle
Fig. 16
Der Einsatzstab in den besetzen Gebieten.
Muhlmann, which sold numerous collections in addition to that of the Goudstikker
Gallery.60 The transfers were a contrivance that were supposed to show that the
“sales” were all legal.
The Führer is very pleased with the latest art acquisitions.
—Martin Bormann
On the whole, the preceding account of the theft of Jacques Goudstikker’s
artworks typifies the policy and methods employed by the Nazis to plunder the
art of occupied Holland. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring himself urged the
establishment of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), whose job it was to
seize art collections on behalf of the Führer. “I welcome the initiative of Reichsleiter
Rosenberg to organize teams in all the occupied territories in order to preserve all
the research materials and cultural assets of the groups mentioned above [Jews and
Freemasons] and transfer them to Germany,” Göring wrote in a document dated
May 1, 1941.61 The ERR was the most
proficient of all the arms of the Third
Reich involved in the confiscation and
looting of property and was directly
responsible for the plunder of over
twenty-one thousand works of art
from more than two hundred art
collections belonging to Jewish
collectors (fig. 16).62 Nevertheless,
Alfred Rosenberg’s unit did not show
the same determination in Holland as
it did in Eastern Europe and France,
primarily because of the spirited
activities of other groups competing
for the same artworks, particularly
the Dienststelle Muhlmann, which
operated under the full protection
of Reichskomissar Arthur SeyssInquart.63 As early as July 4, 1940, just
two months after the occupation, Seyss-Inquart issued order VO33, authorizing
Germans to seize whatever property they desired.64 After Göring and Rosenberg
had preceded him in France, Hans Posse, working directly for Hitler, was more
than happy to cooperate with Muhlmann, who reigned supreme in Holland. With
the support of Hitler’s private secretary, Reichsleiter Martin Bormann, Posse was
given free rein. “The Führer is very pleased with the latest art acquisitions. He
hopes that you will soon be able to procure further valuable works in Holland.
The operating funds for that purpose will be transferred to you immediately.”65
“In Brussels and Amsterdam we are also on the trail of valuable articles.
I believe we will be able to bring quite a few items to Germany,”66 Rosenberg
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
reported to party treasurer Schwarz in September 1940. However, since Rosenberg’s
unit was not the dominant player in the Dutch arena, the art treasures of the
Netherlands found their way straight into the collections of the primary players
behind the Nazi plunder of art: Göring and Hitler. The two men were driven by
fundamentally different motives. Hitler regarded it as the role of the museum in
Linz, Austria, to represent the greatness of the German Reich in the town of his
birth. He saw it as part of what was for him a national objective: to demonstrate
the wealth and culture of the Third Reich to the whole world and to add his name
to the list of art patrons from the country’s glorious history, the past rulers of the
German states. It is not surprising that he chose Hans Posse for this task. Posse
had been the director of the Gemäldegalerie in Dresden, which held a collection
of European masterpieces that had been brought to Saxony by Elector Augustus
the Strong, a noted patron of the arts. Posse expressed his gratitude for the
appointment in a letter to Bormann dated June 29, 1939: “I confirm receipt of
your letter in which I was informed of the weighty responsibility conferred on me
by the Führer, to establish a museum of art in the city of Linz, and permit myself
to express my deepest gratitude.”67 Alfred Rosenberg testified to the nationalistic,
ideological nature of the Nazi plunder of art at the Nuremberg trials. When asked
to explain how the actions of his unit during the war were any different from
looting, he replied that seizing works of art was the policy of the Reich. It would
have been theft, he argued, had he taken the items privately. As he perceived it, his
unit was charged with the custody of enemy property.68 The national character of
Hitler’s collection is also evidenced by a provision of his last will and testament,
which states: “The paintings in the collections I have purchased over the years
were never collected for private purposes, but only for the gallery in the city of
my birth, Linz.”69
If Hitler collected art for nationalistic reasons, Göring did so for his
personal pleasure, his repeated insistence that he would ultimately donate the
works to the German people notwithstanding.70 Göring’s objective, to establish
an art museum in Karinhall, is linked to the story of his love for his Swedish wife,
Karin Gräfin von Fock, for whom the estate was named. He dedicated his art
collection to her as a tribute for her following him to Germany, at a time when he
had nothing to offer her. Karin died of an illness in Sweden in 1931, but when the
Nazis rose to power in 1933, Göring brought her body to Karinhall, which was
to be her mausoleum.71 As previously described, he chose as his curator Walter
Andreas Hofer, a Berlin art dealer who had extensive connections with colleagues
in the Netherlands. Through these same contacts, Göring would later hear of the
Goudstikker Gallery and the Dutch artworks that would soon find their way to his
private museum. The hundreds of paintings from the gallery formed a major part
of the Karinhall collection. During the twelve years of Nazi rule, Göring succeeded
in amassing one of the largest private art collections of the twentieth century.
According to Consolidated Interrogation Report no. 2 of the American army’s
Office of Strategic Services Art Looting Investigation Unit, in 1945 1,300 works
of art were in his possession, half of which had been plundered from “enemies
of the Reich.”72
Two astounding photographs offer visual evidence of the lust for collecting
shared by Hitler and Göring. In the first, taken on January 12, 1938, Hitler is seen
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
presenting Göring with a gift for his birthday, a painting by the minor
nineteenth-century Austrian artist Hans Makart. It is a sentimental portrait
of a female falconer, a work whose theme and style reflect the petit bourgeois
taste of the two men (fig. 17). The ceremonial presentation takes place in a formal
hall in the presence of officers and soldiers. In the second photograph, Heinrich
Himmler is seen congratulating Hitler on his birthday on April 20, 1939, and
presenting him with a painting by the nineteenth-century German artist beloved
of the Kaisers, the Prussian Adolph von Menzel. Entitled Frederick the Great on a
Ride, the painting not surprisingly lionizes the Prussian rulers; Himmler’s giving it
Fig. 17
Adolf Hitler presenting Hermann Göring with The
Falconer (1880), a painting by the 19th-century
Austrian academic painter Hans Makart.
Fig. 18
Heinrich Himmler presenting Hitler with the
painting Frederick the Great on a Ride by Adolph
von Menzel as a birthday gift, April 1939.
to Hitler was meant to demonstrate that Hitler’s election as leader of the German
people continued that dynasty (fig. 18). This, too, is an official occasion attended
by high-ranking officers in resplendent uniform. An unsigned official letter to
Göring sent from Charlottenburg on January 11, 1943, in honor of his fiftieth
birthday, notes: “On this occasion I would like to present you, a patron of the arts,
with a Dutch picture as a gift for your museum. It was painted by the artist Jacob
Adriase Bellevois from the seventeenth century and is a seascape.”73 The custom of
bestowing paintings as gifts, as shown in such photographs and letters, is further
evidence of the fact that Hitler and Göring were known to be avid art collectors.
Moreover, these sources confirm that the gifts were given openly and officially in
the Reich, rather than solely as a private gesture.
In describing the plunder of art by the Third Reich, it has been said that
“Never in history has a collection so great been amassed with so little scruple.”74
As can be adduced from the evidence presented, this was an act defined by the Nazi
leaders as a national objective. Nevertheless, the extensive looting was also driven
by the desire of Hitler and his senior officers to satisfy their craving to possess
the treasures found in occupied territories. Confidential reports of the Foreign
Economic Administration from May 5, 1945, included in the final report of the Art
Looting Investigation Unit of the American War Office dated May 1, 1946, provide
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
an indication of the scale of the plunder: “Most experts agree that it is difficult to
estimate the value of the art treasures looted by the Nazis. . . . Francis H. Taylor,
Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reported that the Nazis had stolen
European art treasures valued at $2,000,000,000 to $2,500,000,000, more than
the total value of all the works of art in the United States” (fig. 19).
He shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches.
—Dan. 11:24
The massive looting described here continues to resound in the frequent headlines
of the world press, which report on the efforts of Jewish Holocaust victims’ heirs
Fig. 19
Items looted from Holland being loaded onto a
barge for their return, July 6, 1946. Photograph
Fig. 20
The sack of Jerusalem as depicted on the Arch of
to regain possession of the property stolen from their families. It was the express
intent of Nazi ideology that the Jews, bereft of all protection, have their lives and
their possessions taken from them during the Holocaust.
The official emblem of the State of Israel, adopted on the eleventh of
Shevat [February 10,] 1949, bears the image of the menorah, the seven-branched
candelabrum from the Temple in Jerusalem: “I have looked, and behold a
candlestick all of gold . . . with his seven lamps thereon . . . and two olive trees by
it” (Zach. 4:2–3). The emblem was designed by the Shamir brothers, who based
their depiction of the menorah on the relief on the Arch of Titus in Rome. After
the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 C.E., Titus, commander of
the Roman legions, brought the menorah back to Rome along with other spoils,
displaying them in a triumphal parade that is immortalized in the relief (fig. 20).
How ironic that were it not for this act of plunder, we would likely have no way
of knowing what the ancient menorah looked like.
The history of the Goudstikker family and the art collection of Jacques
Goudstikker thus constitutes another chapter in a long saga of looting that is
recorded as early as biblical times, was commemorated in the Roman era, and
reached its height with the Nazi persecution of the Jews during the Holocaust.
The book of Daniel prophesies the unusual act of the king of the north, who will
undertake the responsibility never manifested hitherto—to return the spoils of
war—bestowing us with the following legacy: “He shall scatter among them the
prey, and spoil, and riches.”
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
1. “Eine Stimme,” poem written to Dési von Halban
Kurz by Jacques Goudstikker, July 25, 1937.
2. Application for immigration visa no. 2346,
American Consulate, Rotterdam, Netherlands,
November 28, 1939.
3. P. Den Hollander, Roofkunst: De ZaakGoudstikker (Amsterdam, 2007), p. 64.
4. Ibid., pp. 166–67.
5. Immigration visa no. 2249, issued at the American
Consulate, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, January 9,
6. Den Hollander 2007, p. 67.
7. Desirée von Saher, memoir in manuscript (MS),
1970s, “May 1940,” p. 4.
8. Ibid., p. 1.
9. Jacques Goudstikker to unnamed friends,
December 15, 1939.
10. Von Saher MS, p. 3.
11. Jacques Goudstikker to an unnamed friend,
May 6, 1940.
12. Von Saher MS, p. 3.
13. Ibid., pp. 4–5.
14. Jacques Goudstikker to an unnamed friend,
May 6, 1940.
15. Von Saher MS, p. 4; and Den Hollander 2007,
p. 68.
16. Von Saher MS, p. 4.
17. Den Hollander 2007, p. 68.
18. Ibid., p. 7.
19. Ibid.
20. Extract from the day register of the SS
Bodegraven ship’s log, May 16, 1940, recording
Jacques Goudstikker’s death.
21. Von Saher MS, p. 8.
22. Proclamation by Queen Wilhelmina of Jacques
Goudstikker’s induction as a knight in the Order of
Oranje-Nassau, August 24, 1931. This was
accompanied by a letter from the Dutch Ministry
of Education, Arts and Sciences, August 29, 1931,
addressed to Mr. J. Goudstikker, Director of the
Organization of Art Dealers in Amsterdam: “It has
pleased her Majesty the Queen to command you as
Knight in the Order of Oranje-Nassau on August 24,
1931, No. 20. An excerpt of the decree will be sent
to you by the Ministry of Education, Arts and
23. Register Book of Deaths for the Sub-District of
Falmouth, 1940, entry no. 85.
24. Cole Porter, “Night and Day.”
25. Akevoth—Dutch Jewish Genealogical Data Base
26. The name Goldstikker was given to craftsmen
who worked in gold filigree. In the Jewish
community, this typically involved not only jewelry
but also the making of ritual objects, such as
adornments for Torah covers.
27. Akevoth—Dutch Jewish Genealogical Data Base
28. Brabants Historisch Informatie Centrum, Civil
register—Marriage, 50.083/3943/77.
29. Telephone conversation with Shlomo Gidron
(Salomon Goudstikker), November 13, 2007.
30. Personal communication with Chana Koppel,
née Duyzend, Shlomo Gidron (Salomon
Goudstikker), and Flory Wagenaar, née Goudstikker,
November 13–15, 2007.
31. Von Saher MS, p. 6.
32. E. Hillesum, Letters from Westerbork, trans.
Arnold J. Pomerans (New York, 1986), p. 146.
33. In Memoriam: Nederlandse Oorlogsslachtoffers.
34. International Tracing Service (ITS), Master
35. Personal communication with Flory Wagenaar,
née Goudstikker, November 15, 2007.
36. List of Deportees from Holland to
Theresienstadt, September 9, 1944, Yad Vashem
Archives, O.64/274.
37. List of Deportees from Theresienstadt to
Auschwitz, October 1, 1944, Yad Vashem Archives,
38. International Tracing Service (ITS), Master
39. Testimony of Mr. Reichgut, Yad Vashem
Archives, O.3/9718.
40. List of Deportees to Brunnlitz (Schindler’s List),
Yad Vashem Archives, P.41/44, p. 13, prisoner
no. 740.
41. List of Deportees from Theresienstadt to
Auschwitz, October 6, 1944, Yad Vashem Archives,
42. L. H. Nicholas, “A Long Odyssey: The
Goudstikker Collection,” in Important Old Master
Paintings from the Collection of Jacques
Goudstikker, New York (Christie’s), April 19, 2007,
p. 10.
43. Stephen Castle, “Nazi Loot Back in Right
Hands,” New Zealand Herald, February 11, 2006.
44. “Christie’s to Offer Old Master Paintings from
Famed Goudstikker Collection,” press release,
Christie’s, February 22, 2007.
45. Nicholas Glass, “Collection of Grievances,” FT
Magazine, November 26, 2006, pp. 42–45.
46. Ibid., p. 42.
47. Carol Vogel, “Recovered Artworks Heading to
Auction,” New York Times, February 22, 2007.
48. Glass, “Collection of Grievances,” p. 44.
49. Pieter den Hollander, De Zaak-Goudstikker
(Amsterdam, 1998).
50. Vogel, “Recovered Artworks Heading to
51. Glass, “Collection of Grievances,” p. 42.
52. Letter from Hans Posse to Martin Bormann,
August 22, 1940, in Günther Haase, Die
Kunstsammlung Adolf Hitler: Eine Dokumentation
(Berlin, 2002), p. 37.
53. David Roxan and Ken Wanstall, The Jackdaw
of Linz (London, 1964), p. 69.
54. Recommendation Regarding the Application
by Amsterdamse Negotiatie Compagnie NV in
Liquidation for the Restitution of 267 Works of
Art from the Dutch National Art Collection (Case
number RC 1.15), Advisory Committee on the
Assessment for Items of Cultural Value and the
Second World War (Restitutions Committee),
December 19, 2005.
55. Günther Haase, Die Kunstsammlung des
Reichsmarschalls Hermann Göring: Eine
Dokumentation (Berlin, 2000), p. 75.
56. National Archives, RG 260, Records of the
United States Occupation Headquarters WWII,
Ardelia Hall Collection, box 180, “Special
Interrogation of Seyss-Inquart,” August 21, 1946,
in Gerard Aalders, Nazi Looting: The Plunder of
Dutch Jewry during the Second World War (Oxford,
2004), p. 77.
57. Aalders, Nazi Looting, p. 76.
58. Charles de Jaeger, The Linz File: Hitler’s Plunder
of Europe’s Art (Exeter, 1981), p. 69.
59. Ibid.
60. Haase, Die Kunstsammlung Adolf Hitler, p. 97.
61. Memorandum issued by Hermann Göring calling
for Reich authorities to assist the ERR, May 1,
1941. Yad Vashem Archives, Nuremberg Military
Tribunals, TR.2/JM-2116.
62. A. Rothfeld, “Nazi Looted Art: The Holocaust
Records Preservation Project,” Prologue 34, no. 3
(2002), p. 130.
63. Roxan and Wanstall, The Jackdaw of Linz,
p. 68.
64. Aalders, Nazi Looting, p. 23.
65. Bormann to Posse, July 25, 1940, National
Archives, in Haase, Die Kunstsammlung Adolf
Hitler, p. 36.
66. Alfred Rosenberg to the Reich Treasurer of
the NSDAP, F. X. Schwarz, September 18, 1940,
Yad Vashem Archives, Nuremberg Military
Tribunals, TR.2/PS-090.
67. Posse to Bormann, June 29, 1939, National
Archives, in Haase, Die Kunstsammlung Adolf
Hitler, p. 33.
68. Aalders, Nazi Looting, p. 49.
69. Private will and testament of Adolf Hitler,
dictated to Martin Bormann, April 29, 1945, Yad
Vashem Archives, Nuremberg Military Tribunals,
70. Haase, Die Kunstsammlung des Reichsmarschalls
Hermann Göring, p. 12.
71. Ibid., p. 10.
72. Rothfeld, “Nazi Looted Art,” p. 135.
73. Unsigned letter to Göring, January 11, 1943,
Yad Vashem Archives, Nuremberg Military
Tribunals, TR.2/PS-1118.
74. Aalders, Nazi Looting, p. 2.
Shendar/Goldberg, The Insatiable Pursuit of Art
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
In Memory of Jacques Goudstikker
and the Members of the Goudstikker Family
murdered during the Holocaust
The following list is arranged according to family units.
Close spacing indicates that the individuals belong to a single family.
1. Moses Salomon Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom December 15, 1879–February 1, 1943 Auschwitz)
2. Rosa Elisabeth Charlotte Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom February 16, 1911–July 31, 1944 Auschwitz)
3. Marianna Boekdrukker, née Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom August 1, 1884–February 5, 1943 Auschwitz)
4. Henri Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom April 10, 1891–January 11, 1943 Auschwitz)
5. Helen Goudstikker, née Gompers (New York May 1, 1896–January 21, 1943 Auschwitz)
6. Hermann Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom January 18, 1924–October 10, 1942 Auschwitz)
7. Jacques Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom March 11, 1925–September 7, 1942 Auschwitz)
8. Benjamin Henri Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom May 19, 1926–August 1942 Auschwitz)
9. Philip Benjamin Goudstikker (August 24, 1890–October 14, 1942 Auschwitz)
10. Sara van der Heijden née Goudstikker (’s Hertogenbosch January 25, 1884–September 20, 1943 Auschwitz)
11. Jacques Goudstikker (Anderlecht, Belgium July 3, 1891–July 31, 1944 Auschwitz)
12. Gitel Goudstikker, née Berger (Lutowiska, Poland December 8, 1904–July 31, 1944 Auschwitz)
13. Flora Goudstikker, née Hirschel (1862–August 1, 1943 Buchenwald)
14. Alida Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom April 23, 1892–May 28, 1943 Sobibor)
15. Maurits Henri Goudstikker (Bergen op Zoom March 30, 1893–October 1, 1944 Auschwitz)
16. Frederika Goudstikker, née Duyzend (Amsterdam August 25, 1901–October 8, 1944 Auschwitz)
17. Henri Jacob Goudstikker (Amsterdam September 16, 1927–August 17, 1945 tuberculosis after liberation)
18. Jacques Goudstikker (Amsterdam August 30, 1897–May 16, 1940 English Channel)
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940):
Art Dealer, Impresario and Tastemaker
Peter C. Sutton
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 1
Jacques Goudstikker. Photograph
Fig. 2
Martin Monnickendam (Dutch, 1874–1943)
Portrait of Jacques Goudstikker, 1916
Oil on canvas
Fig. 3
Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde (Dutch, 1638–1698)
The Bend in the Herengracht by the Nieuwe
Spiegelstraat in Amsterdam, 1672
Oil on panel, 40.5 x 63 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, no. SK-A-4750
Fig. 4
Oostermeer. Photograph
Fig. 5
The grounds of Oostermeer. Photograph
Fig. 6
Nyenrode Castle. Photograph
By all accounts, Jacques Goudstikker (figs. 1 and 2) was a larger-than-life figure
who helped shape the taste of his age, enlarged the Dutch art market, advanced
art history, and lived a prosperous and abundantly joyful life until it was brutally
interrupted by the Nazis.* A man of extraordinary vitality, a consummate planner
and instigator of new initiatives and projects, he possessed a genius for organization
that enabled him to bring his plans to fruition. Jacques’s natural flair for living
engaged all around him. A born salesman and entrepreneur, he operated a grand
gallery in a seventeenth-century mansion at Herengracht 458 in Amsterdam
(fig. 3) and entertained generously at his gracious home, Oostermeer in Oudekerk
aan de Amstel outside Amsterdam (figs. 4 and 5), and at his country estate, Castle
Nyenrode (fig. 6) in Breukelen. The latter and its grounds were opened to the
public in 1935, attracting ten thousand visitors every summer.
Jacques catered to the leading collectors of his day and influenced patterns
of collecting. At a dealers’ exhibition of old masters held in the Rijksmuseum in
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
1929 he was far and away the largest exhibitor and was photographed escorting
Queen Wilhelmina through the show (fig. 7). He entertained with panache and
generosity and often combined his passion for art with his love of music. In 1937
one of his most famous musical charity banquets was entitled Weenen aan de Vecht
(Vienna on the Vecht [River]). The concertmaster was no less than the overseer of
the Dutch orchestras and the director of the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Willem
Mengelberg, with whom Jacques was photographed (fig. 8). Both men had attained
a social stature by this date that distinguished them as cultural leaders and pioneers,
men who sought to enrich the lives not only of the privileged but of all art
enthusiasts. So much was to change in only three years’ time.
Fig. 7
Jacques Goudstikker and Queen Wilhelmina.
Fig. 8
Jacques Goudstikker and Willem Mengelberg.
Fig. 9
R. Knirr
Portrait of Désirée von Halban Kurz
Oil on canvas, 44.2 x 35.6 cm
Collection of Marei von Saher
Fig. 10
Dési. Photograph
To this same musicale Jacques had invited an accomplished and beautiful
young Viennese singer, Désirée von Halban Kurz. Accepting, she made her first
visit to Amsterdam. We include here an early portrait that was made of her as a
girl in Vienna (fig. 9) as well as a later
photograph (fig. 10). Jacques was
smitten, and the couple soon married
and had a son.
Typical of Jacques’s sophisticated
yet whimsical taste in entertaining in
the 1930s (fig. 11) was his practice of
occasionally augmenting his parties
at Nyenrode with tableaux vivants,
bringing to life images by many of his
favorite Dutch genre painters, including
Gerard Dou, Nicolaes Maes, Jan Steen,
Pieter de Hooch, and Gerard ter Borch.
Some of these scenes were based on
actual prototypes while others were
simply generic imitations of the artists’
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 11
Jacques tending bar. Photograph
Fig. 12
Tableaux vivant at Castle Nyenrode based on
a painting by Nicolaes Maes. Photograph
Fig. 13
Nicolaes Maes (Dutch, 1634–1693)
Girl at a Window, 1650–60
Oil on canvas, 123 x 96 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, no. SK-A-245
Fig. 14
Jacques Goudstikker’s Caricature of Himself
Pen and ink
Gemeentearchief, Amsterdam
genre scenes (figs. 12 and 13). Jacques also had a self-deprecating side, captured in
his own caricature of himself (fig. 14). In recognition of his entertaining in a high
style as well as his ability to organize major art exhibitions, he was likened by
more than one observer to an impresario of the stage, with a gift for orchestrating
elaborate celebrations and spectacles. These instincts for showmanship were not
only lavished on his guests but also deployed to promote new patterns of collecting
and advance art history. Indeed, he has been credited with growing the art dealing
business in Holland, expanding the horizons of collectors and the larger art-loving
In 1906 the director of the Rijksmuseum, Adriaan Pit, admitted that the
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Dutch had become “chauvinistic.” “This worship of our old school of painting,
which began thirty years ago, is still alive and prohibits us from appreciating
any foreign art.” Even today a visitor to the Rijksmuseum, which in effect is the
national gallery of the Netherlands, might be surprised by how little foreign schools
of art are represented. A more recent director of that institution, Henk van Os, has
observed, “Between the two wars Jacques Goudstikker was the man who brought
the Dutch patriciate of the era into contact with prominent foreign art and in so
doing greatly expanded their view of the art world.” In turn, he helped broaden
and modernize the tastes of museums in Holland and abroad. The major
exhibitions that he organized and the installations at Nyenrode in the 1930s
brought these developments to a wider public.
Jacques Goudstikker was born in 1897 to a family of art dealers, who
originally came from ’s Hertogenbosch. Their art dealing business was set up in
Amsterdam by Jacques’s grandfather, Jacob Goudstikker, as early as 1845 and was
carried on by his father, Eduard J. Goudstikker, who dealt in paintings, sculpture,
furniture, and decorative arts, which he exhibited in his gallery on the corner of
the Kalverstraat and the Wijde Kapelsteeg (fig. 15). Eduard had always specialized
in seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish paintings but did so increasingly at the
end of his career. For many years he published catalogues of sales exhibitions of
his stock held in various Dutch cities; in addition to Amsterdam, he exhibited in
Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Arnhem, and Enschede. It is a measure of the
quality of the pictures that Jacques’s father offered that his catalogue of 1915
included both Frans Hals’s Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa, now in the
San Diego Museum of Art (fig. 16), and Pieter de Hooch’s A Musical Party in a
Courtyard of 1677, now in the National Gallery, London (fig. 17). The following
year he offered Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s masterpiece, the ultimate banquet piece
still life (fig. 18). Most of Eduard’s clients were Dutch, especially when World
Fig. 15
Goudstikker Gallery on the Kalverstraat. Photograph
Fig. 16
Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666)
Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa, c. 1635
Oil on panel, 21.3 x 19.7 cm
San Diego Museum of Art, Gift of Anne R. and
Amy Putnam, 1946:74
Fig. 17
Pieter de Hooch (Dutch, 1629–1684)
A Musical Party in a Courtyard, 1677
Oil on canvas, 83.5 x 68.5 cm
The National Gallery, London, bought, 1916,
no. NG3047
War I imposed constraints on international trade. In the gallery’s inventory there
were only a few earlier Netherlandish, Flemish, and German paintings. His elegant
establishment followed the nineteenth-century practice of installing paintings
densely in the main gallery, interspersed with a few pieces of antique furniture
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 18
Jan Davidsz. de Heem (Dutch, 1606–1684)
Banquet Piece with Shells and Instruments, 1642
Oil on canvas, 152 x 206 cm
Private collection
Fig. 19
The interior of Eduard Goudstikker’s gallery on the
Kalverstraat. Photograph
and antiquities, while the decorative arts were presented in their own separate space
upstairs (fig. 19).
Jacques was educated at the Commercial School (Handelsschool) in
Amsterdam before enrolling in art history courses, first studying in 1919–20 at
Leiden University under Professor Willem Martin, a distinguished author and
connoisseur of seventeenth-century Dutch painting, who not only wrote a
monograph on Gerard Dou but also a general history of the art of the period,
both of which are still of value today. At the same time Jacques also studied with
Professor W. Vogelsang in Utrecht, who introduced him to wider fields of study
and a more aesthetic assessment of art. Vogelsang’s accomplishments as a scholar
were not those of Martin, but his diverse and broadcast interests ranged from early
Netherlandish to German and French Gothic, Italian Renaissance, seventeenthand eighteenth-century French, as well as to European art of the nineteenth century.
Among Vogelsang’s other pupils at Utrecht were the future directors of the Museum
Boijmans in Rotterdam and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, D. Hannema and F.
Schmidt-Degener. These fellow students shared an openness toward foreign art that
was progressive for its time. Vogelsang remained close to his former students;
indeed, he made a speech on the occasion of the opening of Nyenrode Castle in
1935 (fig. 6).
Jacques officially entered his father’s business in 1919 and almost
immediately introduced distinctive changes. These were partly in response to
alterations in the economic and political fortunes of Amsterdam, which became
an increasingly vital international center for the art trade in the 1920s. In part this
was at the expense of the German market, which contracted during the financially
strained years following World War I. The Amsterdam auction house of Frederik
Muller & Co., under the auctioneer A. W. M. Mensing, emerged as a very active
business, selling not only local but also important foreign art collections. Jacques
himself played a central role in raising Amsterdam’s international profile. While he
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 20
Title page of a Goudstikker catalogue
sold many important pictures privately, for which there are sadly no public
records, his contributions to the art market can be traced through the thirty-nine
numbered catalogues published by the Goudstikker Gallery. The first eleven were
produced under Eduard’s direction, while the following twenty-eight, often with
multiple venues, were Jacques’s contribution. They attest to an increasingly varied
international offering and greater ambition for the gallery and its publications
(fig. 20). An obvious reflection of this international thrust was their translation
into French, then the international and diplomatic language. Goudstikker’s
publications went to the trouble, rare in sales catalogues of the era but more
common in museum catalogues, of reproducing facsimiles of the signatures and
dates on the paintings. He also took an increasing interest in the quality of his
catalogues and the elegance of their appearance, even numbering and personally
signing all of the copies of his Catalogue no. 33 in 1927 and introducing a
Goudstikker watermark on the paper of Catalogue no. 39 (1930–31).
While Jacques continued his father’s practice of mounting exhibitions
of paintings for sale in various Dutch cities, including Amsterdam (1919–31),
Rotterdam (1936–37), The Hague (almost every year between 1920 and 1926),
and Enschede (1920 and 1926), he now took his shows abroad, exhibiting in
Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Oslo in 1920, and in 1922 and 1923 traveling to the
United States, exhibiting in St. Louis, Detroit, and New York. Clearly it was his
goal to secure an international clientele and to broaden the traditional offerings
of the gallery. He soon achieved both. In 1919–20, in a show reviewed in Der
Kunstsammler of the collection of August Janssens of Amsterdam that Goudstikker
had recently acquired, Jacques demonstrated the quality of Dutch paintings that
the firm had on offer, featuring the youthful Rembrandt’s David with the Head
of Goliath (now in the Kunstmuseum Basel, fig. 21), Frans Hals’s Portrait of a
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Woman (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam), presumed to be the wife
and pendant of the Portrait of Hendrick Swalmius of 1639 (The Detroit Institute
of Arts), and Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Flute (fig. 22), which Joseph Widener
later donated to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. In Jacques’s very first
year with the firm, he exhibited his first early Italian painting, the Madonna and
Child of about 1440 that he and his father had acquired two years earlier at the
von Kauffmann sale in Berlin, then attributed to Gregorio Schiavone and now
recognized as the work of Francesco Squarcione (fig. 23).
Whereas nearly three-quarters of the paintings in his father’s catalogues
were Dutch, in Jacques’s catalogues after 1922 they made up only about half and
were supplemented by paintings from the fourteenth to sixteenth century, not only
by Netherlandish but also by German and Italian masters. Almost from the start,
Fig. 21
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)
David with the Head of Goliath, 1627
Oil on panel, 27.5 x 39.5 cm
Kunstmuseum Basel, Bequest of Max Geldner,
Basel, 1958, inv. no. G 1958.37
Fig. 22
Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675)
Girl with a Flute, 1665–70
Oil on panel, 20 x 17.8 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Widener
Collection, 1942.9.98
Fig. 23
Francesco Squarcione (Italian, c. 1395–1468)
Mary with the Christ Child, c. 1440
Tempera and gold on panel, 59.5 x 45.7 cm
Private collection
in addition to paintings by the “primitives” and early German, French, and Italian
sculpture, he also exhibited nineteenthcentury artists, notably of The Hague
School, but also other, more “modern”
masters. In his preface to Catalogue
no. 27 (1923) held at the Pulchri Studio
in The Hague, Jacques suggested that
these changes were a response to
modern tastes: “As always,
seventeenth-century masters occupy a
place of honor in our exhibition, but
one also encounters works from other
artistic periods, and among others, a
fairly large number of works by the
primitive painters. Modern aspirations
move more and more in this direction
and people’s present-day tastes conform
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
in many regards to those of the fifteenth and sixteenth century.” And in the preface
to Catalogue no. 28 the following year, he noted that “we must take into account
the tastes of foreign buyers now that the Netherlands has become such a
considerable international art market.”
A testament to the quality of some of these early paintings is the fact
that Hieronymus Bosch’s Christ Carrying the Cross (fig. 24), now in the
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, was included in Goudstikker’s show that
toured America in 1923. The dealer also later sold Bosch’s famous Peddler
(fig. 25) to the Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam in 1931. Goudstikker’s offerings
were often in advance of taste, as when he championed important sixteenth-century
masters like Pieter Aertsen and Joachim Beuckelaer (cat. 11), who were important
history painters but also among the first artists to establish still life and genre as
Fig. 24
Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, c. 1450–1516)
Christ Carrying the Cross, c. 1480
Oil on panel, 57 x 32 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Wien, inv. no. GG 6429
Fig. 25
Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, c. 1450–1516)
The Peddler, 1490–1505
Oil on panel, 71 x 70.6 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 1079
Fig. 26
Pieter Aertsen (Dutch, 1508–1575)
The Pancake Maker, 1560
Oil on panel, 86 x 170 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 1006
independent painting types; Aertsen’s great Pancake Maker, now in the Museum
Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (fig. 26), appeared in the show that the young
Jacques sent to Copenhagen as early as 1922. Still another artist who has only
been fully appreciated in the modern era is Arent de Gelder, the last pupil of
Rembrandt, the acolyte of his Spätstil, and heir to the master’s loaded brush and
boldly rendered stuffs and surfaces. By 1918 Jacques’s father had already acquired
de Gelder’s Portrait of Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738), the famous physician and
humanist, which now graces the Mauritshuis, but Jacques added in 1922 the lovely
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Portrait of a Young Woman, now at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 27), in 1930
had on offer the great Belshazzar’s Feast (fig. 28), now owned by the J. Paul Getty
Museum, and later sold a Christ and the Adulteress to Baron Thyssen (ThyssenBornemisza Collection, Madrid, cat. no. 154).
Notwithstanding the darkening financial climate, 1930 was a banner year
for Goudstikker. He acquired Castle Nyenrode, and his Amsterdam gallery’s sale
catalogue offered, in addition to the Getty’s de Gelder, a glittering assembly of
pictures, notably Rembrandt’s Cupid (now with the Princes of Liechtenstein,
Vienna, fig. 29) among the Dutch pictures, and a remarkable group of Italian
paintings, ranging from Giotto’s St. Francis
from the Peruzzi Altarpiece, now in the
North Carolina Museum of Art (acc. no.
60.17.7), to Marco Zoppo’s powerful
Christ as the Man of Sorrows (fig. 30),
Fig. 27
Arent de Gelder (Dutch, 1645–1727)
Portrait of a Young Woman, c. 1690
Oil on canvas, 66.9 x 53.3 cm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Wirt D. Walker Fund,
Fig. 28
Arent de Gelder (Dutch, 1645–1727)
Belshazzar’s Feast, 1680s
Oil on canvas, 111.8 x 139.7 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California,
no. 79.PA.71
Fig. 29
Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669)
Cupid with the Soap Bubble, 1634
Oil on canvas, 75 x 93 cm
Sammlungen des Fürsten von und zu Liechtenstein,
Vaduz–Wien, inv. no. GE880
Fig. 30. Marco Zoppo (Italian, c. 1432–1478)
Christ as the Man of Sorrows, c. 1468
Tempera and gold on panel
Private collection
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 31
Titian (Italian, c. 1485–1576)
Boy with Dogs in a Landscape, 1565–76
Oil on canvas, 99.5 x 117 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 2569
Fig. 32
Luca Signorelli and Workshop (Italian, Tuscan, act.
by 1470, d. 1523)
Assumption of the Virgin with Sts. Michael and
Benedict, late 1480s
Altarpiece, oil and gold on panel, 170.8 x 131.4 cm
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Joseph
Pulitzer Bequest, 1929 (29.164)
Pasqualino Veneziano’s Madonna and Child (cat. 2), and Titian’s haunting Boy
with Dogs in a Landscape (fig. 31). Goudstikker had considerable influence on
leading collectors of his day, including the sugar magnate J. W. Edwin vom Rath,
whose collection of Italian paintings was the largest ever bequeathed to the
Rijksmuseum. Goudstikker’s early success in placing Italian pictures with major
museums is reflected in the fact that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York acquired the Assumption of the Virgin with Sts. Michael and Benedict by
Luca Signorelli and workshop (fig. 32) in 1929. In 1932 he also sold Pesellino’s
King David before the Ark of the Covenant to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
in Kansas City. While Jacques generally foreswore Italian Baroque paintings, he
handled a few eighteenth-century pictures, including the painting attributed to
Lorenzo Tiepolo here on view (cat. 35), recently returned to the family from the
Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Braunschweig. In 1929 he also had on offer A
Regatta with the Rialto Bridge in Venice by Francesco Guardi, which was donated
to the Rijksmuseum by Sir Henry W. A. Deterding (who also donated great Dutch
paintings, including Vermeer’s Little Street) seven years later.
In her careful analysis of Jacques’s influence on the collecting of early
Italian art in the Netherlands, Charlotte Wiethoff (1981, pp. 254–55) has correctly
concluded that his offerings reflected a new international taste that had been
championed a generation earlier by the influential director of the Berlin museums,
Wilhelm von Bode. Blessed with substantial purchase funds and armed with a
shrewd understanding of the market, Bode acquired Italian and German medieval
and Renaissance sculpture, Dutch paintings of the Golden Age, as well as many
fourteenth- to sixteenth-century Netherlandish, Flemish, German, and Italian
paintings. Bode’s influence extended beyond Berlin, not only because he bought
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
for the museums in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Schwerin, Strasbourg, and Magdeburg,
but also because he advised leading German private collectors, such as James and
Edward Simon, Marcus Kappel, Leopold Koppel, Oscar Huldschinsky, and R.
von Kaufmann, often cataloguing their collections in large folio-size, illustrated
Fig. 33
The interior of the Gallery at Herengracht 458.
Fig. 34
The interior of Nyenrode Castle. Photograph
volumes. He also was sought out as an adviser and cataloguer by leading collectors
abroad, such as Alfred Beit, and by foreign museums. His protégés in the museum
world included his students Max J. Friedländer and W. R. Valentiner; the latter
was to leave his mark in America.
Goudstikker’s presentation of art in his gallery on the Herengracht (in a
mansion built in 1656 by the merchant Wuytiers and acquired by Jacques in 1927)
and in Nyenrode Castle also reflected the legacy of Bode’s philosophy of museum
installation, namely that art in all media (painting, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles,
and so forth) should be installed in
designated rooms (een Italiaansche
kamer, Gotische kamer, and so forth)
as an ensemble reflecting a single style,
be it Gothic, Italian Renaissance, or
old Dutch, in an effort to simulate the
surroundings of a specific age. This type
of installation also gained favor in the
United States in the 1930s, when the
new Philadelphia Museum of Art was
installed by its director, Fiske Kimbell.
We can get some idea of how Jacques’s
galleries appeared from photos taken
of the interior of the gallery on the
Herengracht (fig. 33) and illustrations
from the guidebook to Castle Nyenrode
that Jacques himself wrote and
published in 1936 (De Geschiedenis van
het Kasteel “Nyenrode” en de bewoners
daarvan: benevens kort overzicht van de
daar aanwezige kunstwerken) (fig. 34).
The 1930s were more difficult
financial times in the Netherlands. No
longer publishing sales catalogues
annually of his holdings as he had in
the previous decade, Jacques began to
reconnoiter in the world of thematic
exhibitions, terrain still little explored
even by museums. There was, however,
one exception to the rule of sales
catalogues, a show in Rotterdam in
1936–37, which featured major works
by Fra Filippo Lippi, Nicolas Poussin,
Jacob van Ruisdael, Willem Kalf, Lucas
Cranach’s Adam and Eve, and the
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 35
Albert Eckhout (Dutch, c. 1610–1666) (attributed)
Two Brazilian Tortoises, c. 1640
Paper on panel, 30.5 x 51 cm
Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, The Hague,
inv. no. 957
charming Two Brazilian Tortoises, attributed to Albert Eckhout and now in the
Mauritshuis (fig. 35). (Jacques sold ten paintings to the Mauritshuis and handled
seven others that now reside there; he also donated to the museum its lovely little
Karel du Jardin, Italian Landscape with a Shepherd Playing with His Dog, no.
760). In place of traveling exhibitions with costly catalogues, Jacques exhibited in
large group shows of the Dutch dealers’ collective wares, like the exhibition Oude
Kunst, organized by the Vereeniging van Handelaren in Oude Kunst in Nederland,
of which he was a leading member, and first appeared at the Rijksmuseum in 1929
(fig. 7). In this show he exhibited with other prominent Dutch dealers of the period,
including Bachstitz, de Boer, Douwes, Hoogendijk, and Houthakker. This type of
joint commercial art exhibition became the ancestor of the Delftse Antiekbeurs,
which in turn led to The European Fine Arts Fair at Maastricht, now the largest
commercial art fair in the world. Oude Kunst was soon followed in Amsterdam
by the exhibition of the World Congress of International Art Dealers (Wereld
conferentie van de Internationale Kamers van Koophandel) in July 1929. Jacques
played a central role in the promotion of this event, which was designed to attract
international art collectors to Amsterdam, not only with works of art but also with
cultural events such as concerts and academic symposia. Seeds of the modern art
fair were being sown; one need only think of the comprehensive promotional
programming surrounding art fairs like Maastricht, the Basel International,
Miami/Basel, the Palm Beach Art Fair, and so on, to see that they are in some
respects the fulfillment of Jacques’s vision. In 1936, on the occasion of the twentyfifth anniversary of the art dealers’ association, Jacques was again instrumental in
organizing a major dealers’ show at the Rijksmuseum, to coincide with the Third
International Congress of Art Dealers being held in the city. A quarter of all the
paintings in the exhibition came from Jacques, whose stock was more varied than
that of any other dealer in the country at the time.
He also organized increasingly ambitious thematic exhibitions,
including the first survey of Dutch winter landscape paintings, Hollandsche
Winterlandschappen uit de 17e eeuw (Rotterdamsche Kunstkring, Rotterdam,
1932), a forerunner of the show mounted at the Mauritshuis six years ago, and a
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
still-life painting show, Het Stilleven (Kunsthandel Goudstikker, Amsterdam,
1933). These shows included loans from museums and private collectors but, not
surprisingly as the ventures of a commercial gallery, were mostly composed of
Goudstikker’s stock. A more important undertaking was a major exhibition of
the paintings, oil sketches, and drawings of Peter Paul Rubens, which Jacques
presented in August and September 1933 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary
of the Vereeniging Rembrandt. By celebrating the great Flemish master rather than
a Dutch artist or topic with the largest monographic show ever devoted to Rubens
Fig. 36
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640)
A Man and a Woman, study for the Garden of Love
Black chalk
Amsterdams Historisch Museum, no. TA 10301
Fig. 37
Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640)
Achilles Educated by the Centaur Chiron, 1630–35
Oil on panel, 44 x 38.5 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 1760a
in the Netherlands to that date, Jacques again expressed his international, broadcast
perspective. The director of the Rijksmuseum, F. Schmidt-Degener, wrote the
introduction to the catalogue, and the 140 objects included loans from the
museums in Brussels, Rotterdam, the Rijksmuseum and the Fodor Museum in
Amsterdam (including the cover image, a lovely preparatory drawing, fig. 36, for
Rubens’s famous Garden of Love, now in the Prado in Madrid), as well as private
collectors, such as Franz Koenigs (whose collection is still a matter of international
dispute). Once again prominently featured among the works on display were
Jacques’s own holdings, including a splendid group of seven of the eight oil sketches
from Rubens’s studies for the Life of Achilles tapestry series (fig. 37), which he had
acquired that same year from the Baron Barrymour sale at Sotheby’s in London.
He would sell six of these to the famous collector Daniel G. van Beuningen of
Rotterdam and Vierhouten, who in turn donated them the same year to the
Museum Boijmans; the city of Rotterdam paid the succession rights to the balance
of van Beuningen’s collection in 1958. Jacques cultivated a close and very lucrative
relationship with the wealthy van Beuningen and his old classmate, D. Hannema,
now director of the museum in Rotterdam. Eventually the Boijmans acquired more
than fifty paintings that Jacques had handled. These included important early
Netherlandish pictures, such as Bosch’s Peddler (fig. 25), for which it paid the very
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 38
Jan Gossaert (South Netherlandish, c. 1478–1532)
The Metamorphosis of Hermaphroditus and
Salamacis, 1517–23
Oil on panel, 32.8 x 21.5 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 2451
Fig. 39
Lucas van Leyden (North Netherlandish,
c. 1494–1533)
Potiphar’s Wife and Joseph’s Garments, 1510–15
Oil on panel, 24 x 34.5 cm
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam,
inv. no. 2455
substantial sum of 262,000 guilders in 1931; the Hermaphroditus and Salamacis
(fig. 38) by Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse, another artist whom Jacques promoted
precociously, was acquired by van Beuningen in 1934 relatively inexpensively
for 12,500 guilders; Lucas van Leyden’s Potiphar’s Wife and Joseph’s Garments
(fig. 39) to van Beuningen for 140,000 guilders; as well as major works by JeanAntoine Watteau (Evening Landscape with Spinner, inv. no. 2588), Jean-Siméon
Chardin’s Still Life with Fruit and Earthenware (inv. no. 2575), Giambattista
Tiepolo (Golgotha, inv. no. 2587), Hubert Robert’s An Artist’s Studio (inv. no.
2586), and, of course, Titian’s Boy with Dogs in a Landscape (fig. 31).
The year after he mounted his impressive Rubens exhibition, Jacques
served on the selection committee (together with C. W. H. Baard, then director
of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, and other scholars and collectors, including
F. Schmidt-Degener, H. E. van Gelder, D. Hannema, Otto Lanz and J. Q. van
Regteren Altena) of a vast show, comprising 1,293 objects, including paintings,
sculpture, decorative arts, porcelain, and textiles, of Italian art held at the Stedelijk
Museum in Amsterdam, entitled Italiaansche kunst in de Nederlandsch bezit
(July 1–October 1, 1934). The catalogue included an essay on the history of Italian
art by the leading authority of the day, Raimond van Marle, who became an
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
adviser to Jacques, and the show included important loans from leading collectors
like Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (to whom we will return), D. G. van
Beuningen, Mevrouw C. van Pannwitz, Franz Koenigs, and the Swiss surgeon
Fig. 40
Lucas Cranach (German, 1472–1553)
Reclining Nymph, c. 1530–34
Oil on panel, 75 x 120 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, cat. no. 115
Dr. Otto Lanz, who was a professor at the University of Amsterdam. Jacques also
served on the Working Committee and lent no fewer than ninety objects, which
was second numerically only to Lanz’s contribution. Goudstikker was clearly the
moving force behind this expansive project, which he supplemented with a large
Italian festival and tried unsuccessfully to augment with performances of an opera
by Domenico Cimarosa or Claudio Monteverdi. His aim was to bring to the Dutch
public for the first time a truly multifold introduction to Italian art and culture.
One of Jacques’s best clients in the early 1930s was Baron Heinrich
Thyssen-Bornemisza, heir to the powerful iron and steel fortune founded by
his father, the scion of the family August Thyssen. Heinrich Thyssen’s collection,
housed in Schloss Rohoncz, was greatly expanded and upgraded by his son Baron
Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, who in 1988 moved the collection from
Lugano, Switzerland, to Madrid, where it now is a major public museum across
from the Prado. While the first baron owned important Italian paintings, he turned
to Jacques primarily for early Netherlandish, German, and seventeenth-century
Dutch paintings, purchasing nearly two dozen works between 1928 and 1934.
Among the early Netherlandish works was Jan Willens de Cock’s Temptation of
St. Anthony, and highlights include Jan Gossaert’s Adam and Eve and Jan Scorel’s
Madonna of the Daffodils and Donors; Jacques was one of the first Dutch dealers
to promote the northern Mannerists and Romanists. He also helped build the
foundation of Thyssen’s strong German collection with Lucas Cranach’s Reclining
Nymph (fig. 40). The baron appreciated portraiture not merely for the identity
of the sitter but also for the quality of the art; Jacques sold him a series of
distinguished portraits by Cranach, Aertgen van Leyden, Thomas Key, and Cornelis
Ketel, as well as outstanding seventeenth-century Dutch landscapes by Aert van der
Neer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Jan van der Heyden. In 1930 the baron also
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 41
Philips Koninck (Dutch, 1619–1688)
Panoramic Landscape, 1655
Oil on canvas, 83.4 x 127.5 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, cat. no. 211
acquired from Jacques a major panoramic landscape by Philips Koninck (fig. 41),
who was then still an underappreciated artist but who would soon come to
prominence when Horst Gerson first published his monograph in 1936. In 1928
Thyssen had also acquired from Goudstikker Christ and the Adulteress by Arent de
Gelder, who, as we have seen, was another of the dealer’s prescient interests.
Like Arent de Gelder, Salomon van Ruysdael was an artist who particularly
attracted Jacques; over the years he handled about two dozen works by the master
and developed a keen eye for the best of his production. His expertise in this regard
is well represented in the present exhibition (see cats. 21 and 22). In 1936 Jacques
organized and wrote the only monographic exhibition catalogue that has ever been
devoted to this deserving master, Catalogus der tentoonstelling van werken door
Salomon van Ruysdael, January–February 1936. H. F. Wijnman had just published
his biographical study of Salomon in Oud-Holland (vol. 49, 1932), but in his
introduction to the exhibition catalogue Jacques marveled at the lack of literature
on the painter, taking it on himself to plot the general lines of the artist’s
development. He noted Salomon’s early debt to his presumed teacher, Esaias van
de Velde, and close resemblance to his colleague Jan van Goyen. He went further,
seeking to describe a finer distinction between the two masters, noting Salomon’s
greater subtlety in both painting technique and tonal values, observing that van
Goyen is generally darker, while Salomon is blonder and lighter, but that the latter
consistently applied paint with a finer touch. Goudstikker’s exhibition undoubtedly
was a source of inspiration to the young scholar Wolfgang Stechow, who produced
the only monograph and still an invaluable study on Salomon van Ruysdael two
years later in 1938.
During these same years Jacques organized exhibitions and included in
shows more modern artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, who
were acknowledged “buiten inventaris” (outside his inventory and specialties) but
in whom he believed and wished to support. These included Dutch, Belgian, and
French artists like Jan Sluyters, G. H. Breitner, Kees van Dongen, James Ensor,
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Henri Fantin-Latour, Anton Mauve, Toon Kelder, and the pair of father and
daughter artists Jan and Charley Toorop, and even Charley’s son, Edgar Fernhout.
Fig. 42
Hermann Göring and Adolf Hitler examining
plundered paintings. Photograph
These he highlighted in monographic shows as well as in his surveys, which often
traced the history of the subject, be it winter landscapes or still lifes, well into the
twentieth century. However, Jacques had always promoted nineteenth- and
twentieth-century masters alongside his old masters; in the show he sent to the
Anderson Gallery in New York as early as 1923, he included five works by Vincent
van Gogh, two by Kees van Dongen, and a Piet Mondrian. The lovely painting of
two young girls previously attributed to Berthe Morisot in the present exhibition
(cat. 38) was hidden by Jacques’s employees during the war and faithfully returned
to his family in its aftermath.
By the end of the 1930s bellicose shadows were gathering over Jacques
and Dési’s sunny lives. Friends in Austria wrote with desperate pleas to gain
passage to Holland, and anxiety was spreading throughout the Jewish community
in Amsterdam. Jacques had not underestimated the threat of the Nazis or the
German encroachment on Holland. He made provisions for escape, sending some
pictures to England, transferring funds to New York, and delegating his affairs in
the event of an emergency to his representative if he and his family were forced to
evacuate. Unfortunately, his representative died of a heart attack the day of the
invasion. Jacques had booked passage on a ship to America and applied for a
visa, which expired and then was renewed, but by that time the Nazis had already
invaded Holland, preventing him from going to the U.S. consulate to collect it. As
German forces approached Amsterdam, the Goudstikkers
offered to drive Leo van Puyvelde, director of the museum in
Brussels, and his wife, who were unable to reach Belgium by
land to a ship leaving from IJmuiden. Jacques and Dési gathered
up their one-year-old child, all ready cash, and a few portable
assets and set off, although Jacques’s mother, Emilie, refused to
go. At the last second they managed to find passage on the boat
to Dover, in part because a Canadian soldier there on guard
remembered seeing Dési sing for the troops. However, with no
proper papers, they were not permitted to disembark once they
arrived in England and were forced to voyage on with hundreds
of refugees to Liverpool. Sleepless during the night, Jacques went
up to the deck for air and in the blackness fell through an
uncovered hatch and was killed. Dési searched for him, finally
receiving the devastating news that he was dead. When the
ship stopped at Falmouth, Dési hastily made arrangements
for Jacques’s burial at a gravesite overlooking the sea (see
Shendar/Goldberg essay, fig. 7). She continued on to Liverpool
with her infant son and ultimately via Canada to America.
Back in Amsterdam, the Goudstikker assets were soon
taken by the Nazis. Hermann Göring, a rapacious art collector
and second in command in the Third Reich, had personal
designs on Jacques’s pictures (fig. 42). There was a forced
sale of the gallery’s inventory at a fraction of its value to the
Reichsmarschall, which enabled him to secure for his own
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Fig. 43
Hermann Göring on the steps of the Goudstikker
Gallery. Photograph
Fig. 44
Dési Goudstikker singing in Times Square.
collection the works he most coveted. The gallery’s other assets were taken
by Göring’s longtime associate Alois Miedl, who ran the operation as his own
throughout the war under the Goudstikker name. A famously chilling photograph
depicts Göring on the steps of Jacques’s confiscated gallery on the Herengracht
(fig. 43). After the war the Goudstikker paintings that were recovered were
returned to the Netherlands by the Allies with the understanding that the Dutch
government would give them back to the original owners, but the government
wrongly treated the sale to Göring as voluntary. A photo taken in 1945 shows
the ever-resilient Dési singing in
Times Square (fig. 44). After the
war, she went to Holland and tried
unsuccessfully to recover the artworks
that had been taken by Göring and
were in the custody of the Dutch
government. She settled in America
with her new husband, A. E. D. von
Saher, who adopted her son, Edo.
Eventually, she returned to her beloved
Holland, where she died in 1996. Edo
survived her by only a few months,
and Edo’s widow, Marei von Saher,
initiated the claims process for
restitution after the fate of the
Goudstikker Gallery was given fresh
attention by the Dutch journalist Pieter
den Hollander in 1997. A crucial piece
of evidence was the small notebook
inventorying most of his collection that
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Jacques had with him when he died and which Desi had kept (see Shendar/Goldberg
essay, fig. 5). Ultimately the Dutch government established a new restitution
committee, which concluded that the sale to Göring had been coerced. After more
than eight years, in February 2006 the government finally decided to restitute some
200 of the paintings that the Reichsmarschall had forced the Goudstikker firm to
sell over Dési’s extreme protest. The present exhibition celebrates the return of these
works and is composed of many of the finest of Jacques Goudstikker’s paintings.
* The journalistic coverage of the story of the restitution of Jacques Goudstikker’s art collection has
grown exponentially since it was returned in 2006, but the literature on his own contributions to the prewar
art market, collecting, and the art world is still limited. The articles of the journalist Pieter den Hollander
first helped bring the “Goudstikker Affair” to the public’s attention, and his book, Roofkunst: De Zaak
Goudstikker (Amsterdam, 1998), has useful observations about Goudstikker’s contributions to the art world.
But the best study of Jacques Goudstikker as a dealer and tastemaker is the article by Charlotte Wiethoff, “De
Kunsthandelaar Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940) en zijn betekenis voor het verzamelen van vroege Italiaanse
kunst in Nederland,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 32 (1981), pp. 249–78, to which Hollander’s work
and this introduction owe a considerable debt. Nicholas Hall has also written a thoughtful assessment of
Jacques Goudstikker’s legacy, “Jacques Goudstikker—Dealer and Connoisseur,” in the preface to the sale
of some of the restituted work at Christie’s in New York on April 19, 2007.
Sutton, Jacques Goudstikker (1897–1940): Art Dealer, Impresario, and Tastemaker
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
How to Find
One Thousand Paintings
The Fate of Jacques Goudstikker’s
Looted Art Collection
Clemens Toussaint
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
The takeover of Goudstikker N.V., the gallery of Jacques Goudstikker, the foremost
Jewish art dealer in the Netherlands before World War II, and the looting of his
extraordinary art collection, which included approximately 1,400 artworks at the
time, was one of the largest thefts from a single collector effected by the National
Socialists. There is still no trace of many of these paintings, but it can be assumed
that most still exist. Recent experience indicates that many looted artworks from
Jacques Goudstikker’s collection are scattered throughout the world, either on the
walls of public museums or private collections.
Among the missing paintings are works that were attributed by
Jacques Goudstikker to important sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch
and Flemish painters including Adriaen Brouwer, Pieter Codde, Anthony van
Dyck, Ferdinand Bol and Govaert Flinck, Jan van Goyen and Jan van der Heyden,
Meindert Hobbema, Jacob Jordaens, Jan Lievens, Nicolas Maes and Jan Miense
Molenaer, Aert van der Neer, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn and Peter Paul
Rubens, and Jacob Ruisdael, in addition to Salomon van Ruysdael, Daniel and
Hercules Seghers, Jan Steen, Gerard ter Borch, Daniel Vosmaer, and Emanuel de
Witte. These admirable holdings were supplemented by choice examples of Italian
origin: Leandro da Bassano, Correggio, Alessandro Longhi, Giovanni Domenico
Tiepolo, and Tintoretto to name just a few. There were also early Netherlandish
and French works by Petrus Christus, Joos van Cleve, Adriaen Isenbrant, Hans
Memling, François Boucher, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, and Jean-Baptiste Greuze
among others. German masters included Lucas Cranach, Peter Gaertner, and
Hans Schöpfer. This selection underscores the quality of Goudstikker’s lost
Despite the historical evidence of Nazi looting, until the 1990s there
had been little opportunity to conduct academic research into the wartime losses
of Jewish art collectors because so many archives throughout the world were
closed to researchers. It was not until after the Cold War ended and, in particular,
following the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets in 1998 that many
of the important archives became accessible. Once it became possible to research
wartime losses, Jacques Goudstikker’s descendants were able to begin looking for
the looted paintings and launched a scholarly project with the goal of identifying
the complete contents of his gallery. For several years, this has required the efforts
of, at times, as many as five researchers working simultaneously in art historical
archives in Europe and the United States.1 The Goudstikker Provenance Project
has provided the family of Jacques Goudstikker with scholarly documentation
that will assist them in regaining possession of their artworks.
The looting of the Goudstikker gallery by Reichsmarschall Hermann
Göring and Alois Miedl has been widely cited as a prime example of the crimes
perpetrated by the National Socialists. Göring had about eight hundred artworks
from the gallery’s stock transported to Germany and kept about three hundred
of them to supplement his own personal collection. Most of these paintings
were recovered in early 1945 from the Reichsmarschall’s hiding places by the
Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives officers of the United States military and
many can be admired together in this exhibition for the first time since they were
taken by Göring. The Reichsmarschall sold hundreds of the remaining paintings
during the war years either directly to confidants in his political machinery of
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
power or to German industrialists, or he put them back into the flourishing
Dutch and German art markets. Most of these works are still lost.
Figs. 1 and 2
Gallery archive photograph of Claire de Lune,
attributed to Jan van de Cappelle (Dutch,
1624–1679) with stamp and technical description
on the backside.
The Sources: The Blackbook, Inventory Register, and Photographs
The most important primary source is the Blackbook.2 This is a small, black
leather, loose-leaf binder with an index (Shendar/Goldberg, fig. 5). In anticipation
of a possible German invasion, Goudstikker recorded most of his current stock in
it in alphabetical order by artist’s name, and he took it with him when he fled in
May 1940. The Blackbook, however, does not contain illustrations.
An inventory register of the stock held by the gallery in May 1940 and of
works previously sold is also preserved in the Gemeentearchief, Amsterdam.3 In it,
items are arranged chronologically according to their date of acquisition and each
is assigned an inventory number. The two books complement each other and can
be used as a kind of concordance.
Alongside these books, the Goudstikker gallery’s photographic archive is
of great importance. Goudstikker sent photographs to potential customers and to
specialists when seeking an expert opinion; the photographs
were also reproduced in exhibition catalogues and other
Finally Goudstikker’s own address book has proved
extremely helpful in conjunction with the photographs. It is a
veritable Who’s Who of the art world at that time that unites
dealers, museum directors, private collectors, and specialists.
It bears impressive witness to Goudstikker’s professional and
private contacts.
The Goudstikker Photograph Archive
In addition to photographs of Goudstikker’s stock, the
archive contained about one hundred thousand reproductions
of works in public and private collections that were used
for research purposes. The survival of the Goudstikker
photograph archive, despite the turmoil of the war and the
postwar years, has been important for our research. Today
the photographs belong to the art dealership of Pieter de
Boer, in Amsterdam. Although they have been integrated
into de Boer’s classification system, the pictures have never
been mounted on cardboard. They are therefore immediately
identifiable because of the notes, numbers, and stamps from
Goudstikker’s time that are still visible on the reverse sides
of the photographs (figs. 1 and 2). In some cases even the
inventory numbers are noted, which has enabled us to make
definitive identifications.
Among Six Million Photographs
The most important resource for reconstructing a visual
record of Jacques Goudstikker’s lost collection has
undoubtedly been the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
Documentatie (RKD).4 The foundation of the RKD holdings in 1932 comprises the
bequest of Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863–1930) and a larger donation by Frits
Lugt (1884–1970). Goudstikker maintained close contact with these two eminent
art historians, and they all exchanged photographs of their newest “discoveries”
on the old master market. Therefore, many of the prints that were donated to the
RKD by these two men were originally from the Goudstikker gallery. In addition,
Goudstikker, like many of his colleagues, regularly sent photographs to the RKD
after it was founded.
The original glass negatives from the Goudstikker gallery are also now in
the RKD. New prints have been made from them and added to the archive. The
high quality of these large-format glass negatives has proved to be a blessing for
our research in more than one case.
In many respects, the illustrations held at the RKD represented a challenge.
The material is arranged according to artist with iconographic subdivisions that
were often a hindrance to our search for an illustration based on the—often
laconic—title given in the Blackbook. When, for example, a picture is described
in the Blackbook solely as a “Goyen landschapje,” the detailed RKD subdivisions
such as “Goyen—Landscape with Water—Village at the Right—Mill at the Left”
necessitate extensive searches, often through hundreds—or even thousands—of
photographs of the same artists, his students, and followers.
A number of Goudstikker paintings have been reattributed over the last
sixty years, which created another problem for the research. The RKD only rarely
cross-references earlier attributions. The challenge of solving such puzzles is not
specific to the Goudstikker collection; it is characteristic of scholarly research, the
art trade, and the auction houses.
The numerous stock and auction catalogues held in the RKD library were
often helpful in further solidifying the identification of paintings. Former owners of
these catalogues often fastidiously noted sales prices and purchasers in their copies.
In many instances we were able to obtain descriptions from them and thus make
secure identifications.
A portion of the Goudstikker inventory card index is also in the RKD.
Like the Blackbook and the inventory book, the cards do not have illustrations.
But unlike the Blackbook, the individual index cards specify whether a photograph
had been taken, and, if so, give the photographer’s name and the photograph
number, and identify the exhibition catalogs or catalogs of the Goudstikker
dealership in which the artworks were illustrated or described.
Nothing Is As It Seems
When a Goudstikker artwork has been identified, then the search for the work’s
present whereabouts can begin. In some cases we have been fortunate because
a note on the photograph mount in the RKD has provided direct information
about the present owner. For example, a painting by Dirck Hals was found in the
Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf and restituted to Ms. von Saher in January 2006.
The matter is made more complicated by the fact that copies or alternative
versions by the artist himself or his followers and students may exist. Old master
paintings were, after all, enthusiastically copied in the nineteenth century. It is often
difficult to differentiate conclusively between the various versions. It is easier to do
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
so when certain details or even entire figures are missing. In two cases, however,
using very detailed original photographs or the original negatives, we have been
able to show that two seemingly different pictures were in fact one and the same.
Figs. 3 and 4
Joachim Beuckelaer, The Adoration of the Shepherds
(detail) showing identical craquelure in the gallery
photograph from the 1920s (left) and a recent
comparison (right).
A painting from the circle of the Italian artist Marco Palmezzano that
turned up at Christie’s in Amsterdam revealed clear differences from a painting
with the same motifs known only from a Goudstikker photograph. The comparison
of a current transparency with a scan of an original photograph proved that
the craquelure visible on the transparency was exactly the same as that on the
Goudstikker photograph, confirming that both images show the same painting.
Only the areas that differed had little or no craquelure on the original photograph,
indicating that these sections of the picture had been repainted before or during
the Goudstikker period. Such retouchings are not unusual. Damaged sections were
often simply repainted. The repaint itself was apparently removed after the war.
Further examination of the reverse of the painting revealed that the wood panel
was cut from the same tree trunk as two other works of similar size and theme
from the Palmezzano circle, which also were previously owned by Goudstikker.
The situation was similar with a painting by Joachim Beuckelaer that
can be seen in the present exhibition (cat. 11). We discovered the work at The
European Fine Art Fair, Maastricht, in 2006. Elements of the background
architecture and certain other details in the painting differed notably from the
Goudstikker photograph. But here, too, comparison of the craquelure ultimately
settled the issue: “Cracks don’t lie” (figs. 3 and 4).
The case of a still life by Rachel Ruysch was somewhat different, but no
less confusing. No illustration of the work was known. The catalogue raisonné—
also unillustrated—listed two pictures, whose provenances seemed to supplement
each other, as possibilities. Research showed, however, that an inconsistency in the
secondary literature had mistakenly led to there being two catalogue entries for the
same painting.
Sherlock Holmes’s Strategy: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever
remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
These examples show the range of problems: the same picture may be attributed to
different artists, or given a different title; measurements may have been incorrectly
recorded; or the measurements have in fact changed because the support has been
pared down or damaged. Artworks change over time because of restorations,
overpaintings, and retouchings. Photographs of the same painting taken at different
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
times show the different states and seem to depict a different version. Contemporary
copies, workshop versions, and repetitions by the artist complicate the matter
further. How can artworks be conclusively identified where at least two versions
Figs. 5 and 6
Rachel Ruysch (Dutch, 1664–1750)
Still Life with Flowers, 1690 (front and back)
Oil on panel, 34.5 x 27.4 cm
Private collection
seem to be identical, and a comparison of the photographs does not allow for a
definitive decision?
Two possibilities can be considered. Provenance research can proceed
with the following questions in mind: What happened to the painting immediately
after it was confiscated in July 1940? How has it arrived in the possession of the
present-day owner? Or, one can trace the various works back from the present.
In this case, each point on the work’s route to its present location must be traced.
All circumstantial evidence must form a chain that either verifies or disproves the
hypothesis. In many instances, the documentation of a complete provenance makes
it necessary to eliminate all eligible pictures until one reaches the point of certainty
where only the Goudstikker picture remains.
After a suspected picture is located, an examination of its reverse can
provide further information: exhibition labels, stamps, seals, and brands, such as
the marks of shippers and auction houses or preferably the original Goudstikker
inventory number on a gallery label, can confirm that the picture in question is
the work we are seeking (figs. 5 and 6).
A Solid Foundation for Future Research
The restitution of two hundred artworks to Marei von Saher in 2006 has been
accompanied by a growing number of restitutions in various countries. Our
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815
research project serves as the foundation for the task of locating the rest of the
missing works. At this time, about 80 percent of the works taken by Göring to
Germany that are still missing have been identified by means of a photograph.
Where no photograph was available, we established precise descriptions of the
missing artworks by using Goudstikker’s own catalogues or quotations from the
secondary literature.
Although locating the gallery’s inventory now scattered all over the world
almost seventy years after the works were plundered by the National Socialists is a
daunting task, the Goudstikker research team has been able to locate many of the
looted works, not only in Central Europe and North America, but also in places as
far away as South Africa, the Caribbean, Israel, and Russia. To date, our research
has been instrumental in assisting the family in recovering important paintings by
Rachel Ruysch, David Teniers II, Cornelis Troost, Lorenzo Tiepolo, Dirck Hals,
Cornelis Bega, James Ensor, and Edgar Degas from public collections in Dresden,
Cologne, Wiesbaden, Braunschweig, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, and Stuttgart, among
others. For more than twenty-five works, including works by Jacques de Claeuw,
Lorenzo Costa, Anthony van Dyck, Dirck Hals, and Jan van Goyen, we were able
to furnish Marei von Saher and her lawyers with detailed research reports that will
facilitate the negotiations that will make further recoveries possible.
The search for the missing works will continue. The historical information
we have systematically compiled thus far will shed further light on the looting and
what happened to the artworks between 1940 and 1945. We will also conduct
further research, and especially on important individual works, surprising results
can be expected. Other specialized archives will assist us in discovering the lost
works. Beyond this, our research project will also serve an important historical
function by documenting the tragic tale of how an extraordinary collection
compiled by a noted Jewish art dealer was effectively destroyed overnight by
the Nazis.
1. I would like to express my gratitude and recognition to Nina Senger, Berlin, Jan-Thomas Köhler, Berlin,
Dr. Katja Terlau, Cologne, and Amelia Keuning, Amsterdam, for their commitment, encouragement, and
2. Amsterdam Gemeentearchief, Goudstikker Bequest, inv. no. 1341, file 38.
3. Amsterdam Gemeentearchief, Goudstikker Bequest, inv. no. 1341, file 97.
4. With its more than six million photographs, reproductions, and transparencies, the picture archive at the
RKD is the largest collection of visual art historical material in the world. Approximately 50,000 illustrations
are added annually. The press documentation of the RKD contains a further two million newspaper clippings
and miscellaneous printed matter such as advertisements and exhibition invitations. About 52,000 such items
are added to the collection annually. The library, which contains about 450,000 volumes, is the largest art
historical library in the Netherlands.
Toussaint, How to Find One Thousand Paintings
Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street San Francisco, CA 94103 tel 415 655 7800 fax 415 655 7815