Is this your Dali?

Publié le par Mail Online - Daily Mail reporter

Mail Onlinepublished 19/10/2010 at 08:38 GMT by Daily Mail reporter

Astounding art haul looted by Nazis goes online in bid to return masterpieces to their original owners

The art collection includes work by Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali and Claude Monet. But, for once, the names on the canvases are less remarkable than the story of the paintings’ ownership. For they are artworks that were stolen from Jews by the Nazis, many of which were never returned to their rightful owners.

Lost masterpiece

Lost masterpiece: Swans Reflecting Elephants by Salvador Dali was among the art stolen by the Nazis



Loot: A U.S. soldier stands among thousands of artworks stolen by the Nazis and stored in a church at Elligen, Germany, during World War Two


General Dwight D Eisenhower

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (right) inspects some of the stolen art found in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany

From today, Holocaust survivors and their relatives can search for the stolen artwork on a new online database cataloguing more than 20,000 pieces. Some of the pieces could be worth many millions of pounds but the website’s creators say the project will grant only a ‘small measure of justice’ to some of the Jews who suffered under Hitler’s regime. The collection includes Swans Reflecting Elephants by Dali and Seated Pierrot by Picasso, as well as a pastel by Monet which is believed to be one of the Impressionist artist’s earliest creations.

In May, Christie’s set a new auction record for a Picasso painting of £66.8million while earlier this year a Dali landscape from the same period as Swans Reflecting Elephants fetched £3.6million. The Nazi records of items seized in France and Belgium from 1940 to 1944 show that at least half have yet to be returned to their owners.

The database

The database is unusual because it has been built around Nazi-era records from 1940 to 1944 that have been digitised. On this page one can see next to the number 338 'Renoir, Children's heads', 342 'Cezanne, Flowerpot' and 345 a work by Picasso


Two workers

Two workers move a crate of artworks down a wooden ramp to be moved to the more secure location of a salt mine

US soldiers take a look in 1945

U.S. soldiers take a look, in 1945, at a painting by the French impressionist Edouard Manet. The new database will allow Holocaust survivors and their families to search for items stolen by the Nazis


‘It is now the responsibility of museums, art dealers and auction houses to check their holdings against these records to determine whether they might be in possession of art stolen from Holocaust victims,’ said Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, one of the U.S. project’s creators. Marc Masurovsky, the project’s director, said that the 20,000 items catalogued by the Germans in Paris represented the ‘tip of the iceberg’. It is estimated the Nazis confiscated around 650,000 items of art, of which between 100,000 and 200,000 are still missing.


Haul: This engraving by the 15th century German artist Albrecht Duerer was among thousands of items hidden in mines by the Nazis towards the end of the conflict


The Graces in the Gardens of the Hesperides

'The Graces in the Gardens of the Hesperides' by Peter Paul Rubens is another work stolen by the Nazis


Despite Hitler’s abhorrence for surrealists and Jewish artists, the work of both was considered worthy to be sent back to Germany. Mr Masurovsky urged anyone hoping to return stolen artwork had to be ‘cautious’ and ‘do their homework’ before making any accusations about stolen art, as some artists painted several almost identical works.


Captured: Soldiers from General Patton's Third Army stand among gold reserves stashed away in a salt mine


Himmler's hoard
'Himmler's hoard': Artworks found on the outskirts of Wewelsburg, Westphalia, where the headquarters of the SS was

line arrow endTo view the database, go to

An iconic photograph showing Adolf Hitler in a Munich crowd of patriots in the first days of the First World War is a fake, a prominent German historian claims.

Gerd Krumeich said the photo, dated August 2, 1914, was doctored to include Hitler to dispel accusations that he was an unpatriotic shirker who fled his native Austria to escape national service there.

Mr Krumeich says other archive photos of the event from different angles did not show Hitler.

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