Bulla de Villaret (?-?)
An expert on the architecture of Andrea Palladio, Bulla de Villaret served first as an Art Expert, and later Chief, of the French Art Restitution Mission for Austria.
De Villaret investigated works of art and other cultural artifacts looted from France by the Nazis and hidden in the U.S. Zone of Occupation in Austria. Stationed in Salzburg, he frequently worked alongside Monuments Woman Evelyn Tucker. At Castle Leopoldskron, these two Monuments Officers supervised the packing and transportation to France of French paintings, antique furniture, and twenty-three boxes containing parts of a massive marble mantelpiece. One of de Villaret and Tucker’s most notable cases involved the Welz Collection. Consisting of French sculptures, tapestries, antique furniture, and paintings, the collection had been illegally purchased by the notorious art dealer Frederic Welz on orders from Nazi officials. In April 1947, de Villaret accepted the restitution of 260 art objects on behalf of the French Government. The remaining parts of the Welz collection, the majority of which were paintings and rugs Welz resold to private individuals, were restituted at a later date.
In addition to Welz, de Villaret also interrogated other suspected dealers of looted art objects, including Dr. Ruprecht, a Nazi expert for historic arms and armor. During the war, Ruprecht was responsible for returning to Germany all weapons and armor taken to France by Napoleon. Through de Villaret’s interrogation of Ruprecht in March 1947, the French Art Restitution Mission gained valuable intelligence regarding the purchase of French art objects for Hitler’s planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria.
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