Nina Burleigh just published a piece in The Observer about the German Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, whose business, life, and legacy were virtually erased with the rise of Nazi Germany. Flechtheim was once considered Weimar Germany’s “preeminent dealer, representing dozens of modern masters from Picasso to Klee.” Though we rarely hear his name today, the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection houses at least six Flechtheim works, including a Picasso and a Braque, and his face even appears in a few modernist artworks.
Jonathan Petropolous, chair of the history department at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., and author of The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany, claims that museums still hold a ton of works that the Nazis purged from German state collections. “MoMA was lapping this stuff up through a pipeline that ran from the Nazi propaganda ministry through Nazi-associated dealers in Europe and New York,” he says. Last September, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider claims by the heirs to the German émigré artist George Grosz (who was at one time represented by Flechtheim), to three paintings in the MoMA by the Expressionist master.