Switzerland, the Zurich museum withdraws five paintings: “They were looted by the Nazis”

The Kunsthaus Zurich, one of the most prestigious art museums in Switzerland, has announced the withdrawal of five paintings. The reason: these are most likely works looted by the Nazis. The foundation responsible for the Emil Buhrle collection said a sixth painting had also undergone further examination, but no decision has yet been made on it. Emil Buhrle, after whom the collection is named, was an arms dealer – resident in Switzerland but of German origin – who made his fortune during the Second World War. It has long been suspected that many works in private art collections in Europe are actually the result of Nazi looting. The foundation behind the paintings said it was “committed to seeking a fair and equitable solution for these works with the legal successors of the former owners, following best practices.”

The paintings removed from the Kunsthaus Zurich are: Monet's garden in Giverny by Claude Monet, Portrait of the sculptor Louis-Joseph by Gustave Courbet, Georges-Henri Manuel by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, The old tower by Vincent van Gogh and The vertical path by Paul Gauguin. The Swiss museum welcomed the Foundation's decision to return the paintings to their rightful owners, but also added that “in the interests of visitors, it deeply regrets that five of the paintings will be removed from the premises.” The decision to remove the five paintings from the Zurich museum is part of new guidelines on the treatment of Nazi-looted works of art, established by the US State Department and approved by more than twenty countries (including Switzerland).

On the cover: A painting by Monet removed from the Kunsthaus Zurich

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