Thursday, January 31, 2013
Paul Westheim is a deceased art critic and his daughter is claiming that owners of a Manhattan gallery benefited from a deception involving German Expressionist works her father left in Berlin as he was fleeing Nazi persecution.
Margit Frenk, his daughter, seeks the return of four paintings and $3.6 million for the fifth one ("The Violin") that the gallery sold. She sued the Yris Rabenou Gallery, its owner and her husband, and their two sons in New York County Supreme Court.
Yris Rabenou Soloman, the gallery owner, is executrix of the estate of Charlotte Weidler, an art dealer and one of Westheim's former friends. Before Westheim fled to France, he gave his collection to Weidler for safekeeping. After WWII concluded, Weidler led Westheim to believe that his collection was lost or destroyed in the war. Weidler then took the works, that had in fact survived the war, to New York and fraudulently concealed them from Westheim until his death when she started selling the works. When Weidler died, she bequeathed the Westheim works to Yris Rabenou Solomon and David Solomon. Frenk is seeking a judgment declaring her the rightful owner of her father's collection and the proceeds from sale of "The Violin."
See Adam Klasfeld, Art Case Alleges WW II-Era Double-Cross, Courthouse News Service, Jan. 30, 2013.