After return to Jewish owners, Nazi-looted art to be auctioned for $22 million

Three pieces by Pissarro and Signac go up for sale nearly a century after they were taken from Gaston Levy’s home in German-occupied France

Paul Signac's La Corne d’Or, 1907 (Courtesy)
Paul Signac's La Corne d’Or, 1907 (Courtesy)

Three neo-impressionist pieces of artwork looted by the Nazis from a Jewish collector during Germany’s occupation of France will be up for auction in London and are expected to be sold for over $22 million, The Guardian reported on Saturday.

The masterpieces by Camille Pissarro and Paul Signac were handed back to the heirs of Paris native Gaston Levy in the last two years.

Levy and his wife Liliane managed to survive World War II by fleeing to Tunisia, but their collection of books and artworks was stolen and dispersed during the Nazi occupation.

Two of the paintings were recovered shortly after the war and hung at the Musée d’Orsay museum in Paris. The third was found in the collection of a German art dealer.

Thomas Boyd-Bowman from the Sotheby’s auction house told The Guardian that he expected to receive up to 12 million euros ($13.34 million) for Pissarro’s Gelée blanche, jeune paysanne faisant du feu (Peasant Girl Lighting a Fire. Frost), between five and seven million euros for Signac’s La Corne d’Or (The Golden Horn) and 800,000 euros ($890,000) for Signac’s Quai de Clichy, Temps Gris (Quai de Clichy, Gray Weather).

“It’s a pity for the Musée d’Orsay to lose these paintings, but it’s a good example of a country acting in an honorable fashion. It’s the right thing to do,” Boyd-Bowman told The Guardian. “Looting and vandalism should not profit others.”

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