Friday 05 March 2021

Nazi-looted painting returned to 96-year-old owner could fetch €2.8m

Jacob Ochtervelt: De Oestermaaltijd (1664-65)

A Dutch painting that was returned to its owner nearly three-quarters of a century after being looted by the Nazis is expected to fetch almost €3 million when it goes up for sale on Wednesday evening.

De Oestermaaltijd (The Oyster Meal), by the 17th-century painter Jacob Ochtervelt, was stolen from a bank vault in Arnhem in 1944 and went on to be sold to galleries in Düsseldorf and Zürich.

It was one of 14 paintings that J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of a children’s hospital in Arnhem, unsuccessfully tried to hide from the occupying Nazis during the Second World War.

In 2014 the Commission for Looted Art in Europe tracked it down to Mansion House in London, which had been bequeathed the painting by the City of London’s former lord mayor Andrew Palmley.

It was returned to Smidt van Gelder’s surviving daughter, the 96-year-old Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, at a ceremony at Mansion House last November. She described the return of the artwork as ‘very meaningful to my family… we are delighted to bring it home again to honour my father’s legacy.’

The painting is one of the highlights of Sotheby’s Old Masters Evening Sale on July 4, where it has an estimated sale price of £1.5m to £2.5m (€1.7m to €1.8m). Sotheby’s catalogue describes it as ‘an excellent example of Jacob Ochtervelt’s style and one of his finest surviving works.’

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