New Art Claim Stolen €3 Million From Salt Cellars By Silversmith

Lutma salt cellars on display at the Amsterdam Museum Photo: S Boztas

It’s a shimmering reminder of the wealth of the Dutch “golden age,” when the wealthy held lavish dinners in their marble-lined homes.

But four 17The tenth The century-old silver salt cellars created by master craftsman – and friend of Rembrandt – Johannes Lotma are allegedly stolen art.

At a compensation commission hearing, the descendants of a Jewish woman from Hamburg, Emma Badge, claimed the €3 million now set in Amsterdam Museum and the RijksmuseumIt was accidentally taken from the family in Nazi Germany.

A previous ruling by the Compensation Committee in 2018 returned a bronze sculpture that was part of the same collection, and it was sold at the same auction. Meanwhile, the Amsterdam MuseumShow ‘on Amstel labels two silver Lutma vaults as items of ‘problematic’ origin which ‘may be regarded as involuntary loss of property. “

boxes in the basement

The collection was owned by Emma Ranett Badge Lazarus, a wealthy Hamburg-based Jew and American citizen. “The Budge collection was huge, she was a very wealthy lady, buying like crazy,” explains Lothar Fremy, partner at the Berlin law firm Rechtsanwälte Rosbach & Fremy.

She had a huge villa in Hamburg but could not display all the pieces she had bought, so many of them were packed in boxes in the basement. The Nazis could not touch her property because she was an American citizen and [had] She lived with her husband in the United States. They left her alone for a while.

But the story was different after her death, according to Stephen Schwab, 81, an American attorney and great nephew of Badge, who had no children. “The Nazis came and took everything from the house, the whole group,” he claims. He went to Berlin and was auctioned off – I have the catalog. From the sale, it details every item in her collection that has at least made it to auction. It’s amazing.

Everyone always jokes about how accurate the Germans are, so they worry about keeping detailed records – and in this case, they did. It is now clear what the situation was. He stole this from our family.


The auction took place at the Paul Graupe/Hans W. Lange Company in Berlin on October 4, 1937, says Fremy, and more than 40 descendants of Budge and her husband now claim all 1,020 pieces represent a ‘loss by persecution’ – an art form Nazi. Her will said that although she allowed her Jewish enforcers to donate items from her art collection to museums, she didn’t want an auction in Germany, and divided her fortune among 13 Jewish beneficiaries.

For Schwab, who was asked by his 101-year-old aunt and Holocaust survivor Marian Schwab to take care of claims related to his family branch, this is an obvious question of justice. “The most important thing, of course, is that they were taken illegally,” he adds. “It doesn’t matter how many years have passed – things have been stolen from the Budges, so the Budges must have a claim to it.

“The danger is that people will say, ‘It’s been a long time since they got back what they ought to get back and now that’s fair game.’ But I think the principle of the title series exists all over the world in any civilized Western country. Some heirs may be more interested in money, but In the case of our family, we believe that justice is justice and that is part of our heritage.

a discount index Photo: Heidelberg University Library


Margaret Schafemaker, the art director of the Amsterdam Museum, agrees, and says museums have a duty to continue investigating their collections. “We change as a society and not only accept what it is, but understand that all kinds of systemic power plays were at stake in the world,” she says.

Museums may contain these collections, but can I assume they are there and should remain there forever? Maybe we really need to take stock of that and talk about the future.

After working on an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum on 18 objects that circulated under pressure from the Nazi rise, I actively asked about the pieces of questionable origin in the Amsterdam Museum. And while she was eager to ‘do the right thing’ when the Compensation Committee came to a binding opinion, she said it was important to retell this history as part of the story of the Lotma salt vault – which is now being played out in World War II.


On the one hand, they represent the enormous wealth of the Dutch at 17The tenth century, that they have these wonderfully decorated salt cellars that you put on the table for a sumptuous banquet,” she explains. They are beautiful in craft, and that is the story. I was Tell about them.

“[We turn] This is in the story of the transfer of ownership, because there were Jewish owners who had to leave the country. Many Jewish collectors had to sell things for money to escape, or stash them in case they returned… Amsterdam had a wonderful Jewish community and was almost completely destroyed, their possessions sold. This shows that story, too.

A spokeswoman for the Rijksmuseum said the two silver salt vaults are currently on display and researchers have shared extensive research on their provenance with the Dutch heritage organisation, Rijkdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. welcome A new approach to respond Building on more ‘humanity’ in 2020, General Manager Taco Dibbets said it’s a ‘positive development’ that justice will drive the decision on looted art.


However, there is some frustration among the Budge family that it has taken about five years to evaluate Lutma’s claim, and the counting is being done – especially given the former Rule To return another item from the same sale.

“My dad knew them very well, buds,” Schwab says. He knew many things, admired the collection, and felt the same way we do: that these things were collected by our kinsman and that they belonged to us. Since these things are so beautiful and meaningful, to display them in museums is great – but they should make a compromise, and there must be a memory in the description of the object that these things were stolen by the Nazis.

A spokeswoman for the Compensation Commission told Dutch News that there was no date for the publication of a “binding opinion” that would decide the fate of the salt cellars.

But returning to his family’s stories, the scars of war, loss, pillage, and desertion, Schwab adds: “It’s important that people remember.”

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