The Neue Galerie will open “Gustav Klimt: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections,” starting today. But experts are questioning why the 63-year-old fervent art collector won’t cough up the documentation of his acquisitions, according to The New York Times.
But for some experts in Holocaust restitution research, the show raises another issue related to Mr. Lauder’s trove: He declines to issue documentation of his private collection for public scrutiny.
Among the major collectors of Vienna Secession and German Expressionist artworks between the two world wars were many prosperous European Jews, who often had to surrender their art when they were deported by the Nazis or fled abroad. And Mr. Lauder and Mr. Sabarsky’s collections are among the most prominent private holdings of such works in the United States.
At the same time Mr. Lauder donates heavily to Jewish causes and champions restitution to Jewish heirs. He is president of the World Jewish Congress, for example, and once oversaw its art recovery commission.
“I find it strange because of who Lauder is and who he has claimed to be in terms of his concern for those who suffered at the hands of the Nazis,” said Ori Soltes, president of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project. “I would think he would bend over backwards to at least be a shining light of provenance propriety.”