Reunion with looted painting is ‘second victory against the Nazis’

[From The Guardian]

David Toren remembers staring at Max Liebermann’s Two Riders on a Beach as his great-uncle signed over his estate to a Nazi general. Now his family has it back.

Most of David Toren’s family died in the Holocaust and he, then a teenager, only survived because his father got him to safety via the Kindertransport. Now Toren has spoken of the emotion of being reunited with a painting the Nazis seized more than 75 years ago.

“I felt the sense of victory – the second victory against the Nazis,” he told the Guardian.

Toren, now 90, was 13 when he last saw Two Riders on a Beach, an early 20th-century masterpiece by the German painter Max Liebermann, at the home of his great-uncle, David Friedmann, a passionate art collector, patron and prominent society figure in Breslau.

The painting was returned to Friedmann’s heirs this month. Toren, a retired lawyer, is now blind and family members have decided to sell the painting. It is a painful decision, but “there is no other solution”, he said. “You can’t cut up the painting [to share it].” An artist has created a braille version for him.

Two Riders on a Beach will be the first painting to be sold from the secret hoard of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of one of Adolf Hitler’s art dealers, Sotheby’s has announced.

Painted in 1901, it was among more than 1,200 artworks found in Gurlitt’s dilapidated flat in Munich in 2012. They had been hidden from the world for decades and long ago assumed to have been destroyed in the war.

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