Van Gogh drawing once looted by Nazis sold for over $10 million at auction

La Mousmé was restituted in 1956 after being seized from a Jewish banker during German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940

Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 drawing of La Mousmé (courtesy: Christie’s)
Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 drawing of La Mousmé (courtesy: Christie’s)

A Vincent Van Gogh painting looted by the Nazis from a Jewish collector during Germany’s invasion of the Netherlands was sold during an auction for $10.4 million, The Art Newspaper reported Thursday.

The masterpiece was handed back to the Jewish owner in the 1950s.

Kurt Hirschland and his wife managed to survive World War II by fleeing to the US, but their prized artwork was stolen during the Nazi occupation.

The drawing was recovered shortly after the war and hung at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

La Mousmé, the Japanese-inspired drawing of a girl from 1888, was one of the most expensive items sold in the art collection “A Family Collection: Works on Paper, Van Gogh to Freud,” during the live-streamed auction.

Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 drawing of La Mousmé (courtesy: Christie’s)

The portrait of the young girl was bought in 1920 by Kurt Hirschland, a German-Jewish banker. According to Christie’s Auction House, where the drawing was sold, at some point during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940, it was confiscated.

Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum acquired La Mousmé in 1943, and in 1956 it was restituted by the museum to Kurt Hirschland. He died a year later and the Van Gogh work passed to his son Paul.

In 1983 the painting was bought from Paul by a London art dealer named Thomas Gibson for an undisclosed price, and he and his sons now sold it in the Christie’s auction.

“It was always a special treat, giving me enjoyment every day,” Gibson told The Art Newspaper, adding that he was “really not too interested in the identity of the sitter — she was simply a very beautiful girl with piercing eyes.”

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