Kunsthaus Zürich

Tree ‘Suspicious Cases’

The importance of pointing out these distinctions when publicizing suspicious cases is underscored by the following three paintings, all of which allegedly ended up in the Kunsthaus collection as the result of forced sales:

‘Portrait de Victor Jacquemont au parasol’ (1865/67) by Claude Monet

‘Hollyhocks’ (1886) by Vincent van Gogh

‘Music on Karl Johan Street’ (1889) by Edvard Munch

All three acquisitions are typical examples of ‘flight assets’:
-    They are objects exported by their owners from Germany without pressure and at a time of their choosing, with the Kunsthaus assisting in various ways.
-    They are objects that their owners sold of their own free will and without compulsion.
-    They are objects for which the Kunsthaus demonstrably paid market prices.

These entirely legal sales, conducted in an environment in which finding buyers for progressive art was no easy matter, significantly benefited the owners. There is no justification for accusing those responsible at the time, in particular Kunsthaus Director Wilhelm Wartmann, of unjust enrichment or exploiting the owners’ predicament. On the contrary: Wartmann is one of the prominent individuals who championed the cause of the persecuted in a variety of ways.