Significant Restitutions

2012 – "Bouquet of Flowers" sold under duress makes its way back to rightful owner

Bouquet of Flowers in a Clay Vase from the studio of Jan Brueghel the Elder was originally owned by Viennese Jewish merchant Julius Kien. When Austria was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1938, Kien was forced to declare his assets and soon after sold some artworks, including this floral still-life, to art dealer Hinrichsen in Berlin. Fritz Thyssen bought the painting from Hinrichsen, but in October 1939, the Nazis confiscated his collection and stored the works in the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn and the Museum Folkwang in Essen.

After the war, the artworks were slowly returned to Fritz Thyssen’s wife and daughter. However in 1987, the Free State of Bavaria signed a contract of sale for the acquisition of the Fritz Thyssen art collection, and in 1992, several paintings, including the picture Bouquet of Flowers in a Clay Vase, entered the collection of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. It was only when they began to prepare for a major exhibition on Brueghel, that the museum thoroughly examined the painting and noticed labels on the revers which showed that Julius Kien had once been the owner of the still-life.

Having been sold under duress, Julius Kien’s heirs were entitled to claim and obtain the painting back. On July 10, 2012 the painting was returned to Jennifer Kien, a grand-daughter of Kien from Jerusalem who lives in Australia.