Nov 29, 2021

Swiss Art Dealers Association connections

Art Historians and Provenance Researchers might find the history of the famed Swiss Art Trading Association to be an interesting source of study

1. The OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit had this to say about Dr. Willi Raeber in 1946 when they placed him on the Red Flag List of Names.

"Raeber, Dr Willi. Basle, St Albans Anlage 68. Prominent art dealer. Vice president of the Swiss syndicate of art dealers and its most active member. Involved in various looted art transactions. Possessed certain paintings on the Allied List. Contact of Hofer and Wuester."

The ALIU also specified that Raeber was involved in trafficking Courbet's  Woman Asleep At Table which the Nazi looting organisation known as the E.R.R. had seized from the Paul Rosenberg collection:

Truessel, Dr Fritz.  Bern, Beautusstrasse 32.  Was offered the Matisse Open Window confiscated by the ERR from the Paul Rosenberg Collection, by Martin. Purchased the Courbet, Woman Asleep At Table confiscated from the Paul Rosenberg collection by the ERR.  This painting was imported into Switzerland in April 1942 by German diplomatic bag, given by Wendland to Fischer for sale, then passed into the hands of Willi Raeber and finally to Truessel,  Max Stoecklin was also involved. 

2. Gottfried Tanner was also put on the ALIU Red Flag list. The investigators described his activities as follows:

Tanner. Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse 39. President of the Federation of Swiss Art Dealers. Involved in the traffic of looted works of art having sold a Renoir, Girl with a Fishing Net, confiscated by the ERR from the Paul Rosenberg Collection. The painting was received by Tanner from Neupert of Zurich. May have other looted objects. Possibly involved in the disposal in Switzerland of the two paintings by Corot confiscated by the Germans from the Bennheim firm in Paris in 1940, and most recently held by Frau Veraguth of Zurich.


3. Peter Nathan, who was born only in 1925, was not on the ALIU Red Flag list, unlike his father, and business partner, Fritz Nathan, about whom the ALIU wrote:

Nathan, Dr Fritz. St Gallen, Rorschacherstrasse 25. German refugee art dealer in Switzerland since 1935. Adviser to Buehrle, and intermediary between Fischer, Hofer and Buehrle. Has denied knowledge that paintings and drawings acquired by Buehrle from Fischer were looted; all evidence to the contrary.

(Fritz Nathan has been a frequent topic here because of the simply unbelievable number of misspellings, mistranscriptions, miscodings, data errors, odd redirects and other improbable shannanigans surrounding his digital records, especially where Emil Bührle is concerned).

4. As for Eberhard Kornfeld, neither he nor his partner Klipstein were mentioned by the ALIU.  However....

Kornfeld is probably best known these days as  the dealer whose cash payment to Cornelius Gurlitt (son of Hitler's dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt) was discovered on a train between Switzerland and Germany, setting off the investigation that led to the (still ongoing) Gurlitt scandal. 
Kornfeld also has attracted media attention for his role in several claims concerning demands for restitution of Nazi-looted art 

"Kornfeld told Swiss Public Television, SRF, that he paid Gurlitt in cash or by cheque for the artworks he sold."

"he travelled to Zurich every four to six weeks and fetched his €9,000 to pay his living costs. He had no job. He lived off the sales of works in this collection." 

"It was during one of those trips that the elderly recluse first drew the attention of the German customs authorities. In a fast train from Zurich to Munich on Sept. 22, 2010, they searched him to find €9,000 in cash – below the limit of €10,000, but enough to arouse suspicion."

Kornfeld served as president of the Swiss Art Trading Association for 37 years (1959-1996) (with Peter Nathan as vice-president).

4. Walter Feilchenfeldt, also known as Walter Feichenfeldt Jr to distinguish him from his father, the art dealer of the same name, took over from 1997 until 2007 with Doris Ammann as vice-president .


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