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The Unresolved Legacy of Nazi Art Loot

The Unresolved Legacy of Nazi Art Loot


For more information contact:   

Brian Zimmerman | 312.322.1724
Betsy Gomberg | 312.322.1756


International correspondent David D’Arcy comes to Chicago
to discuss recently discovered stockpiles of stolen art — and to
share the complexities of finding, investigating, and returning
artworks pillaged by the Nazis.

(CHICAGO) Between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis engaged in one of the biggest art thefts in history, systematically stealing millions of works from every territory they occupied. Treasures were pillaged from museums, libraries, churches, synagogues, and private collections, particularly those of Jewish artists and collectors.

Though caches of stolen artworks were recovered after the war and efforts were made to return works to their rightful owners, nonetheless huge numbers of pieces were destroyed, sold or absorbed into other collections, or are still missing.

A convergence of recent events has brought widespread public awareness to the complex history of art plundered by the Nazi. The movie The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney, was released early this year, drawing attention to the men — and women — in what officially was called the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, an American attempt to locate and rescue Nazi-looted art.

The film hit US screens just weeks after a major discovery of art amassed during the Nazi era was made public. This 1,200-piece trove, valued at more than $1.35 billion, includes works by Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso. It is one of the biggest discoveries of Nazi-looted art to date and the announcement about it by German officials set off a powerful range of reactions in the art world and in Jewish communities worldwide. In a somber coincidence, the discovery came on the verge of the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in which thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked by the Nazis.

In an effort to examine the complex issues surrounding Nazi-looted art, Spertus Institute welcomes veteran art journalist David D’Arcy for a lecture and discussion titled Art Loot: An Unresolved Legacy.  Mr. D’Arcy has been investigating and writing about art theft for more than 20 years. The program, timed to mark Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), takes place on Monday, April 28 at 7 pm.

Mr. D’Arcy will explain the history of Nazi art theft and its subsequent impact on Western and Jewish culture. He will discuss the recently discovered stockpiles of stolen art, place these finds in the context of ongoing efforts to reclaim and return Nazi-looted art, and explore how the new discoveries affect US museums and the Jewish community.

Tickets are $18 for members of the public, $10 for Spertus members, and $8 for students. They can be purchased online at or by phone at 312.322.1773.

Mr. D’Arcy is a writer for London-based The Art Newspaper and a regular contributor to “Front Row” on BBC Radio. His reporting also appears in publications ranging from Art & Auction to the San Francisco Chronicle. He is co-writer and co-producer of Portrait of Wally, a documentary about the 13-year battle to recover a painting looted by the Nazis in Vienna in 1939 that then turned up in 1997 on loan to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also appears in The Art of the Steal, a documentary about control of the $25 billion art collection of the Barnes Foundation.

About bringing Mr. D’Arcy to Chicago for this program, Spertus Institute President and CEO Hal M. Lewis says, “The spectacular story of Nazi-looted art is a formidable part of the criminal history of the Nazi regime. David D’Arcy has taken a leadership role in investigating and reporting on this issue and in highlighting its ongoing relevance. I look forward to hearing his analysis of recent events.”

Spertus Institute is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue. Discount parking is available for $10 with Spertus validation at the Essex Inn, two blocks south of Spertus.

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Spertus Institute offers dynamic learning opportunities, rooted in Jewish wisdom and culture and open to all. Graduate programs and workshops train future leaders and engage individuals in exploration of Jewish life. Public programs — including films, speakers, seminars, and concerts — take place at the Institute's Michigan Avenue facility, in the Chicago suburbs, and online. For more information, please visit

Spertus Institute is a partner in serving the community, supported by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

This program is part of the Solomon Goldman Lecture Series, generously endowed by Rose and the late Sidney Shure. It is made possible, in part, with support from the Bernard and Rochelle Zell Center for Holocaust Studies at Spertus Institute.

David D'ArcyDavid D'Arcy

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Portrait of WallyEgon Schiele’s Portrait of Wally,
the painting that brought the story
of Nazi art loot into
the open

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» print quality