October 15, 2021
ACTING SUPERINTENDENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES ADRIENNE A. HARRIS ANNOUNCES THE RETURN OF A NAZI LOOTED DRAWING TO THE HEIRS OF DR. ARTHUR FELDMANN
First Joint Recovery with the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage
Acting Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris today announced the return of a drawing to the heirs of Dr. Arthur Feldmann. The work is a double-sided chalk drawing by the Italian artist Giacomo Cavedone (1577-1660) entitled A Study of a Priest Holding a Book (recto); A Study of the Standing Figure of a Young Soldier (verso). The drawing was stolen from the Brno home of the renowned art collector Dr. Arthur Feldmann when the Nazis requisitioned the Feldmann villa in March 1939. This is the first time the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) and the Feldmann Heirs collaborated with the Carabinieri for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (Carabinieri) whose swift and diligent intervention made this success possible.
“DFS is grateful for the invaluable assistance of the Carabinieri in seizing and returning this important drawing to the Feldmann family” said Acting Superintendent Harris. “This serves as a prime example of how international cooperation between government agencies can bring about long overdue justice for Holocaust victims.”
The Cavedone resurfaced on the art market several times in London and Italy since it was appropriated by the Nazis. After discovering that the drawing was being offered for sale in Italy at the Old Paintings Online, Salò Brescia, the HCPO, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Art Crime Team, alerted the Carabinieri, which was able to successfully recover it.
Since the end of World War II, the heirs of Dr. Feldmann have tirelessly sought to recover his drawings collection that consisted of over 750 drawings by Dutch, Italian and French 16th and 17th century artists. Like the fate of many European Jews at the time, Dr. Feldmann lost his livelihood, all of his property, and eventually his life, after being arrested, tortured, and suffering a stroke. His wife Gisela was sent to Theresienstadt and later perished at Auschwitz. Dr. Feldmann’s two sons fled Czechoslovakia in 1940, and survived the war. Over eighty years later, Dr. Feldmann’s grandson, Uri Peled, continues to seek to preserve his grandfather’s legacy and recover his looted drawings.
“The return of this drawing with the help of the Italian government is very symbolic for us,” said Mr. Peled. “In the winter of 1941, my parents and 2 year old sister Hana fled Brno and boarded a ship to Palestine in Trieste that was manned by an Italian captain and crew. Were it not for the Italians, my family would have perished in Auschwitz, my sister Ruth and I would never have been born, and the legacy of Dr. Arthur Feldmann would have never become known. Now 80 years later it is the Italians who return this artwork to the Feldmann heirs, and for this we are deeply thankful to the Italian people.”
The HCPO is a unit of the New York State Department of Financial Services. 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 responded to thousands inquires and received claims from 46 states and 39 countries. The office has helped secure over $181 million in offers for bank, insurance, and other losses. The office facilitated settlements involving more than 180 cultural objects.
The image of A Study of a Priest Holding a Book (recto) can be found on the DFS website.
The image of A Study of the Standing Figure of a Young Soldier (verso) can be found on the DFS website.