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Billionaire Ronald Lauder and Others to Return Art to Heirs of Collector Killed by Nazis

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Restitution of Art to Heirs of Collector Killed by Nazis

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), along with other art collectors and entities, has made the decision to return artwork looted by the Nazis to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum. Grunbaum, a Jewish cabaret performer from Austria, had acquired a collection of 81 Schiele works before being arrested by the Nazis in 1938 and later murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1941.

Voluntary Restitution of Artwork

Lauder, an avid art collector and the heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, has agreed to return Egon Schiele's 1912 color drawing titled "I Love Antitheses" to the Manhattan District Attorney's office. This is part of the voluntary restitution of seven Schiele artworks, worth a total of $2.75 million, to the Grunbaum heirs through the D.A.'s office.

A Meaningful Restitution Process

In a statement, Lauder expressed his pleasure and honor in assisting the Grunbaum family in their efforts to recover their legacy. He hopes that the restitution process brings healing to the family and helps keep alive the memory of Fritz Grunbaum and his wife Elisabeth, both of whom were victims of the Holocaust.

Legal Proceedings and Art Ownership

The heirs of Grunbaum have been seeking to reclaim the Schiele works for decades. In 2018, a New York civil case ruled in favor of the heirs, affirming their right to possess two Schiele artworks. This ruling was later upheld by an appellate court in 2019. In conclusion, the voluntary restitution of artwork by Ronald Lauder and other collectors to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum is a significant step towards acknowledging the injustices of the past. It highlights the ongoing efforts to right the wrongs committed during the Nazi era and provides a small measure of justice to the victims and their families. The return of these artworks not only restores a part of the Grunbaum family's legacy but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving the memory of those who suffered during the Holocaust.

Conclusion: The Impact on New Businesses

The voluntary restitution of looted artwork by Ronald Lauder and other collectors to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum offers a significant lesson for new businesses, particularly those dealing with art and antiquities.

Importance of Provenance

This case underscores the importance of provenance and the ethical responsibility businesses have in ensuring the items they deal with have a clear and legal ownership history. New businesses, especially those in the art industry, must prioritize due diligence in verifying the provenance of the items they acquire.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Lauder's decision to voluntarily return the looted artwork also highlights the role of corporate social responsibility. New businesses can learn from this act of restitution and understand that their operations should not only focus on profit but also consider the broader impact on society and historical justice.

Reputation and Trust

Finally, such actions of restitution can significantly enhance a business's reputation and build trust with customers and the public. New businesses should recognize that acting ethically and responsibly can be a powerful tool for building a positive brand image. In conclusion, the restitution of artwork to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum serves as a valuable lesson for new businesses about the importance of provenance, corporate social responsibility, and reputation management.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/20/ronald-lauder-to-return-art-looted-by-nazis-to-collector-heirs.html
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