A wealthy Berlin family spoke against the early rise of the Nazis in the Berliner Tagblatt. This negative interest angered the Nazis, who openly criticized the family and later plundered their extensive collection of artworks.
“The Musa family lost almost everything because they were Jews, but they didn’t lose hope,” Acting US Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said at a press conference. “While this certainly does not eliminate the pain Moses endured, I hope it provides the family with a measure of justice.”
Rudolf Moss was a prominent publisher from the well-known family. He bought the painting – also known as “Skiers” and “Snow” – directly from the artist in 1900 at the Great Berlin Art Gallery.
Musa died in 1920 and the family’s collection of art and publications were passed on to his daughter when his wife died in 1924, according to federal court documents.
When the Nazis came to power, the family made their way to the United States. They knew very little, Bacon said, “Winter” didn’t do that either.
The painting was passed down from the Nazis to a number of people before businessman Bartlett Arkell bought it from a prominent exhibition in 1934. Bacon said there was no evidence that Archel knew that the painting was stolen.
When the museum learned that the painting was illegally taken, it handed the art over to the FBI in 2019.
The painting is now with the Mosse Foundation, which represents the heirs of Felicia Lachman Moss, Rudolph’s only daughter.
“It was one of the first major expropriations by the Nazis, and it is an example of what has become, unfortunately, a well-oiled machine,” said Strouch, the grandson of Rudolf Moss.
“Winter” is estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands, Strouch said, but the figure will be determined at an auction. The Sotheby’s is expected to offer the painting for auction.
To date, Strouch said there have been thirty successful remakes of more than 50 mousses. But he added that there was more work to be done.
He said that there are eight outstanding receivables in Poland, Sweden, Germany, Israel and the United States.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Peter Magneto said at the press conference.
“We may have played a small role in a colossal effort, but we will forever realize the scale of this work and we are truly honored to be able to return this painting to its rightful owners,” he said.