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Franz Marc’s cubist masterpiece to be returned to estate of Nazi-persecuted Jewish owner

The Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, the current home of Franz Marc’s ‘Die Füchse’ (The Foxes), will soon return the valuable cubist painting to the heirs of its former Jewish owner Kurt Grawi.

Franz Marc, The Foxes (1913). Photo: Google Cultural Institute via Wikimedia Commons

Grawi sold the work in 1940 after having been imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Nazi Germany and escaping to South America.

The judgement of the Advisory Commission, the committee of experts which makes recommendations on individual restitution claims in Germany, comes after a debate surrounding the circumstances of the sale.

Grawi and his family sold the artwork a year after arriving in Chile, which technically places the sale outside of the Nazis’ sphere of influence.

While the World Jewish Congress advised against its restitution for this reason, the Commission decided that the sale was so closely connected with Nazi persecution that it must be restituted. Grawi’s heirs argued that the proceeds of the sale enabled the family’s emigration.

This decision indicates shifting standards when it comes to restitution claims, setting an important precedent for similar situations where artworks that were sold abroad in exigent circumstances can qualify for restitution.


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