Ken’s Korner: Family seeks return of painting by Monet
News & Views From the World of Antiques & Collectibles
By Ken Hall
Juan Carlos Emden, grandson of the late wealthy Jewish businessman Max Emden, is seeking the return of a Claude Monet masterpiece worth around $27 million that the family was forced to sell for just $32,000 when it had to quickly flee Europe for South America during World War II. The impressionist painting, titled Poppy Field Near Vetheuil, is one of Monet’s most famous works. Max Emden purchased it in the 1920s and brought it with him in 1933 to Ticico in Switzerland, when he himself fled the Nazis.
In Switzerland, Emden built the Villa Emden, which housed his large art collection. But after his death, in 1940, his only son, Hans Erich Emden, sold the collection to finance his swift exit from Europe to South America. He sold the Monet work to a Jewish merchant, who in turn sold it to a Swiss citizen named Emil Buehrle, for about $37,000. It has been housed ever since in the Buehrle Foundation in Zürich, which houses many masterpieces. Juan Carlos Emden planned to travel to Zürich to seek the Monet’s return.