Two vases stolen by Nazi regime returned to family after 80 years

According to the FBI, after Fuld's death and the Third Reich's rise to power in 1933, the Nazis subjugated the family accounts and placed an "exit tax" on his wife.

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August 4, 2019 00:54
2 minute read.
Two vases stolen by Nazi regime returned to family after 80 years

One of the vases stolen by the Nazi regime in 1939. (photo credit: FBI WEBSITE)

Two vases, estimated to be worth about $120,000, were returned to the family of Harry Fuld 80 years after they were stolen from his widow by the Nazi regime, in a ceremony made possible by the joint efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Art Crime Team and the American Embassy of Germany, according to a Fox News report.

Fuld, was a German-Jew who created the "first modern telephone system" in Germany, named H. Fuld & Co. Telefon und Telegraphenwerke AG. He and his wife, Lucie Mayer, lived in Germany in the 1930s. Fuld died in 1932.

According to an FBI press release, after Fuld's death and the Third Reich's rise to power in 1933, the Nazis subjugated the family accounts and placed an "exit tax" on Lucie, making it difficult for her to leave the country. Lucie escaped Germany in 1939, however, she had to leave behind her home, artwork and most of her possessions. In 1940, many of the assets she was forced to abandon were listed as "items for sale" at a Berlin auction house, less than one year after her departure.

The FBI added that the Nazi Party "determined proceeds from the auction satisfied the exit tax they put on Lucie. The work was listed as Lot 198 at the auction, described as ‘two bronze vases, fire gilded, two-tone, French, Louis XVI, 1780-1890.’”

The items from the Fuld estate were listed in a London-based auction twice after being sold by the Nazi regime, once in 1997 and then subsequently again in 2000, according to the Fox News report.

“The works were eventually consigned to Christie’s Auction House in New York City. The auction house confirmed both pieces as unrestituted property through its restitution due diligence process, and worked with the FBI to secure the vases,” the FBI said.

Richard Grenell, the US Ambassador to Germany, who has waged a robust campaign to combat antisemitism in Germany in particular and in Europe in general, praised the efforts of the FBI and the embassy to bring the stolen art back to the family from which they were taken.

“Finding ways to bring small measures of justice to the victims of the Holocaust and their families, even after so many years of injustice, is a priority of the Trump Administration," Grenell told Fox News on Saturday. "From the very beginning, President [Donald] Trump instructed his team to be aggressive in this work. Returning these Nazi stolen works of art to their owners’ families was a group effort by the team at the US Embassy in Berlin, the FBI, German private citizens and many others.”

“We hope this one success story will encourage others to keep researching and pushing auction houses and governments to return the thousands of other Nazi stolen items on the market to their rightful owners," he concluded.


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