Claude Monet Painting Heads to Auction After Legal Settlement

The painting was sold under duress in 1933

Claude Monet painting
The Monet painting, in black and white.
Internet Archive Book Images

When it comes to ethics and the sale of art, it’s not hard to navigate into complex territory. Art looted by the Nazis during World War II is an obvious red flag that calls out for restitution, for instance — but when you begin looking into art sold under duress by (for example) Jewish families looking to leave Europe quickly, that’s something for which it can be more difficult to find definitive proof.

In the case of a Claude Monet painting heading to auction via Christie’s, the auction house’s own restitution department was involved in researching the issue. That comes via ARTnews, who reported on the painting La Mare, effet de neige, which is set to be auctioned off next month.

In 1933, the painting’s owner — a man named Richard Semmel — made it available for sale before leaving Germany for the Netherlands. Eventually, the painting ended up in the possession of a French family; both that family and Semmel’s heirs will receive proceeds from the sale of the Monet.

As ARTnews reports, this isn’t the only work once owned by Semmel to have the terms of its sale looked into. Semmel’s heirs’ lawyer, Olaf Ossmann, referred to the result as “a fair and just solution according to the Washington Declaration from 1998” in comments made to ARTnews. Will it lead to more similar settlements in the future? Time will tell.

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