The Spoliation Advisory Panel considered a claim on behalf of Margraf & Co GmbH, a company liquidated by the Nazis in the late 1930s, for an oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled “Cros de Cagnes, Mer, Montagnes”, now in the possession of Bristol City Council. The Margraf group of companies was owned by Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer.
The Panel concluded that whilst the loss of the Painting amounted to a forced sale, it was not as a result of Nazi persecution but rather as a direct result of Margraf’s bankers’ legitimate exercise of their rights over the Painting and other art works in order to realise a significant debt which the Margraf group had accrued and which had its origins prior to the Nazis coming to power. The circumstances in which Margraf lost possession of the Painting came about as a result of its indebtedness to its bankers, compounded by the precarious financial position in which the Oppenheimers found themselves following inheritance taxes lawfully imposed upon them in 1929.
The Panel’s conclusion was therefore that Margraf’s claim to the Painting was weak and that the claim should be rejected. The Panel recommended that the Oppenheimers’ connection with the Painting should be incorporated into its narrative history when it is displayed.
The Spoliation Advisory Panel was designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as the Advisory Panel for the purposes of considering the claim. The Panel was established in 2000.