The two paintings arrived via different routes. Based on an anonymous tip from within the art trade circles, the Stern Foundation learned that Ships in Distress on a Stormy Sea by marine artist Jan Porcellis (c.1584-1632) was consigned to Auktionshaus Metz in Heidelberg.
Soon after advising the company, contact was made between the German consignor and foundation representatives from the Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) of the State of New York Department of Financial Services.
It was confirmed that during the Nazi period the work had been sold by force to secure an exit visa for Max Stern’s mother. Following amicable discussions, the work was returned.
The second painting, Landscape with Goats by animal painter Willem Buytewech the Younger (1625-1670) was consigned by a German collector to Auktionshaus Stahl in Hamburg.
News of the sale was flagged by the German Lost Art Foundation, which in turn had been alerted by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).
In the Nazi period the work had been sold in Cologne at a forced auction of Stern’s holdings. The Hamburg auctioneers connected the consignors with the HCPO, and again thanks to positive collaboration, the work was returned.
Both of these paintings were listed on various international databases of stolen art. Their recoveries follow news in June of another Stern painting in a German private collection returned with the assistance of Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus.
Concordia Max Stern Restitution Project