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Eight Artworks Returned to Rightful Heir from Austrian Museums with Assistance of Holocaust Claims Processing Office
HCPO Director Anna Rubin Discusses Restitution of Nazi Looted-Art at Panel at Walters Art Museum

October 2, 2008

New York, NY: The New York State Banking Department’s Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) announced the return of eight works of art to the heir of their original owner, Ignatz Pick. The eight works, lost as a result of Nazi persecution, are being returned by the Albertina Museum and the Vienna Museum.

The HCPO assisted with the recent recovery of eight works of art to the artist Monique Goss, the sole surviving heir and granddaughter of Ignatz Pick, an avid art collector as well as a successful antiquarian and gallery owner in Vienna, Austria before World War II. After the Anschluss, Pick’s antique business was Aryanized and control over his personal art collection was turned over to a Nazi-approved administrator. The administrator sold art from the collection to raise funds necessary to pay the punitive taxes imposed by the Nazi regime as well as to pay the immigration taxes for Pick’s wife and daughters who had fled to New York. Pick, unable to join his family in the United States, died alone on Feb. 23, 1941 in Vienna. 

The artworks, which include portraits by Johann Baptist Lampi and other works by various Austrian artists, were restored to Goss through an intricate restitution process involving extensive historical, genealogical and provenance research. Due to the efforts of the Austrian Commission for Provenance Research and the Viennese Restitution Commission, the Austrian Ministry for Education and Culture and the Vienna Municipal Councilor for Cultural Affairs and Science decided to return to Goss two works from the Albertina Museum and six works from the Vienna Museum.

“We are so glad to see these works returned to Ms. Goss. I commend and thank the HCPO for their tireless work and continuing persistence in negotiating the return of property lost due to Nazi persecution to the rightful owners,” said Richard H. Neiman, Superintendent of Banks for New York State.

The HCPO will participate in a panel, Returned Treasures: A Reunion of Artwork Looted During the Nazi Era, to discuss the recent restitution of these eight works of art, as well as the complex issues surrounding Holocaust-era looted art.

Anna Rubin, Director of the HCPO, and Goss will discuss the return and the complex legal and ethical issues that are part of such a process as part of the panel discussion on Sunday, Oct. 5 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this panel and I look forward to sharing the HCPO’s experiences assisting owners and heirs reclaim art collection lost during the reign of the Nazi regime,” said Rubin.

Thomas R. Kline, partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Andrews Kurth LLP and Elizabeth Rodini, art historian and founder/director of the Program in Museum and Society at The Johns Hopkins University will also be participating in the panel discussion. The panel will be in the Graham Auditorium at the Walters Museum, 600 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD from 2 to 5 p.m.

The HCPO is a division of the New York State Banking Department.  It was created in 1997 to help Holocaust victims and their heirs recover: assets deposited in banks; unpaid proceeds of insurance policies issued by European insurers; and artworks that were lost, looted or sold under duress.  The HCPO does not charge claimants for its services.  To date, the HCPO has helped return approximately $90 million in bank claims, more than $29 million in insurance claims, over $7 million in other assets, and has assisted in securing the return of 26 works of art. 

The New York State Banking Department is the regulator for all state-chartered banking institutions, virtually all of the United States offices of international banking institutions, all of the State’s mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, check cashers, money transmitters and budget planners. The aggregate assets of the depository institutions supervised by the Banking Department are more than $2.2 trillion.

In addition to regulating banking institutions, the Banking Department is active in informing and educating all New Yorkers on banking matters.

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