Paul Cézanne Work Sold by Christie’s

Paul Cézanne Work Will Appear at Christie's New York Next Month, Following Doubts Regarding Its Nazi-Era Origins.

Oct 26, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne, Quatre pommes et un couteau (four apples and a knife), 1885. ©Christie’s Images.


Paul Cézanne work will appear at Christie’s New York next month. Before sale, Christie’s assisted in mediating a reparation deal between the descendants of the work’s pre-World War II Jewish proprietor and the vendor, Switzerland’s Langmatt Foundation. Painting in question is “Fruits et pot de gingembre (fruit and pot of ginger)”.


Paul Cézanne Work Ownership Doubts

Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne, Fruits et pot de gingembre (fruit and pot of ginger), ca. 1890–93. ©Christie’s Images.


This peice is one of three by the Impressionist painter on display at the Museum Langmatt in Baden. It will be a part of the “20th Century Evening Sale“on November 9. However, at the last minute, doubts surfaced about who actually owned it. The auction house’s examiners discovered that Jewish dealer Jacob Goldschmidt was the original owner.


This was before the ascendancy to power of the Nazis. He sold his painting to Brown after being incapable to work because of laws that targeted Jews. “Christie’s, the Foundation Langmatt, and the heirs of Jacob Goldschmidt have worked cooperatively together to find an amicable resolution”, the statement said.


 modern olympia
A modern Olympia, Paul Cézanne, 1873-4, via Wikimedia Commons


It also continued:”We are now pleased to confirm that this important Cézanne will be offered for sale pursuant to a settlement agreement between the Foundation Langmatt and the heirs of Jacob Goldschmidt. The agreement fully resolves and settles any dispute over the ownership of the work, and clear title will pass to the successful bidder at auction”.

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Potential Legal Challenge Still Exists

post impressionist bathers
Bathers by Paul Cezanne, 1874-1875, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


On September 26, the piece’s scheduled sale went public. After that, according to Langmatt representative Bernhard Schmidt’s email, “a piece of evidence came up that made us think best course of action was to approach the heirs. While the historical documents are unclear, the context was obvious. Goldschmidt wasn’t able to operate as he normally would have in years prior”.


“While there may not for certain be a case for restitution, the Foundation Langmatt and the museum thought the most respectful way to move forward with the sale was to locate the heirs and, with Christie’s, reach an amicable solution”, he added. “The heirs of Jacob Goldschmidt have expressed their gratitude for the solution reached”, the family’s lawyer, Ewald Volhard of Wantuch Thole Volhard said.


paul cezanne landscapes gardanne
Gardanne by Paul Cézanne, 1885-6, via Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


The sale could still face a potential legal challenge from the museum’s former board president, Alfred Sulzer, the Brown’s great-nephew. He believes deaccessioning the works is in violation of their son’s will, which established the institution, and the Langmatt Foundation deed.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.