Australia makes its first Nazi art restitution

Posted on: June 16, 2014 by

Inspired by ‘international law’ and the 1998 Washington Principles, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne recently announced that it will be restituting a portrait to the heirs of its original owner, Jewish industrialist Richard Semmel.

The portrait, originally thought to be a Van Gogh original, had been part of Semmel’s collection which was dispersed and sold under duress by the Nazis in 1933. The picture has been with the NGV since 1940.

After studies conducted in 2007, it was determined that the work was not by Van Gogh. Instead of being valued at AUS $ 5 million, it now has a value of AUS $ 10,000. The portrait will nonetheless be returned to the Semmel heirs.