Heirs of Otto Nathan Deutsch claim Nolde painting at Sweden's Moderna Museet

The return of an Emil Nolde oil painting of a garden "Blumengarten (Utenwarf)" has been the subject of ongoing discussions between the heirs of a German-Jewish businessman and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, and has been settled after reaching a long stalemate and more than six years after negotiations began.

According to David J. Rowland, the attorney for the heirs, the museum purchased the painting at auction in Switzerland in 1967. The Nolde belonged to Otto Nathan Deutsch who sent it, along with some other works of art, to his new address in Amsterdam in 1938-1939; the shipment did not arrive.

Over the years, several solutions were proposed by the heirs, two of whom are Holocaust survivors and are over 80 years old. The museum has insisted either on sharing the "profits" achieved on a sale of the painting or a long-term loan to the museum after its "return." Neither approach appears to satisfy the Washington Principles. In 2007, the Minister of Culture directed the museum to resolve the dispute, but only in September 2009 did the Moderna Museet and the heirs reach an agreement.

The settlement is unusual. A buyer was found, identified only as a private European collector, who agreed to lend the Nolde to the Moderna Museet for as long as five years. After that, the collector promised other loans. The heirs' attorney had valued the Nolde at $4 million; the joint statement did not specify the purchase price nor how much of it the heirs would receive.

Blumengarten (Flower Garden)

Emil Nolde, Blumengarten (Flower Garden)Settled

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