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Provenance Research on the Art Collection of Herbert M. Gutmann

Facts & Files conduct research on the provenance and whereabouts of works of art from the collection of Herbert M. Gutmann. Herbert M. Gutmann (1879-1942) was born in Dresden, Germany. In 1872 his father Eugen was one of the founders of the Dresdner Bank. Herbert was a member of the board of managers of the Dresdner Bank AG and head of the board of the Deutsche Orientbank AG. The Dresdner Bank named him as its representative on over thirty advisory boards of both German and foreign companies. 

At his villa, “Herbertshof”, in Potsdam and his Berlin apartment, he housed a sizeable and prestigious collection of Old Master paintings, as well as French and German Rococo pieces, Asian porcelain and sculptures. 

After the Nazis came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, life for Gutmann and his family changed forever. Their Jewish origins and his political activity during the days of the democratic Weimar Republic brought him to the attention of the Nazis. As the Dresdner Bank was under Reich’s control, the Nazis exerted influence on the management of the bank as early as March 1933. Gutmann had to relinquish his place on several advisory boards of companies connected to the Dresdner Bank. The German State also cancelled all the contracts he had secured through the bank and, furthermore, the Dresdner Bank went to claim that Gutmann also owed them thousands of Reichmarks in unsubstantiated debts. For this reason, he was forced to sell his property. 

On March 31, 2009, the Vienna Museum returned the painting “The Death of Pappenheim” by the celebrated Austrian artist Hans Makart, to the grandchildren of Herbert M. Gutmann. The decision to restitute the painting was reached unanimously by Vienna's municipal council on June 25, 2008. Vienna Councillor, Dr. Andreas Mailath-Pokorny and Dr. Michael Wladika, the member of the Restitution Office of the Viennese Museums, handed over the painting to the legal representatives of the Gutmann family and the grandson of Herbert Gutmann.

In 2010, the German parliament, the Deutsche Bundestag restituted a painting by Franz von Lenbach with the portrait of Bismarck to the family of Herbert Gutmann.

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Beate Schreiber
Facts & Files
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