Nazi-looted “Adam and Eve” painting restored to Goudstikker heiress

Adam and Eve, attributed to the Dutch 16th-century artist Cornelis van Haarlem. Courtesy Kaye Spiegler

The long-lost painting “Adam and Eve,” looted by the Nazis from the collection of Dutch-Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker during World War II, has found its way back to Marei von Saher, Goudstikker’s daughter-in-law and sole heiress. 

The Dutch 16th-century masterpiece, attributed to Cornelis van Haarlem, resurfaced when it was offered for donation to Musée Rolin in Autun, central France. The Goudstikker label on the painting, discovered during the evaluation process, triggered suspicions about its provenance.

Art law firm Kaye Spiegler, assisting the Goudstikker family, confirmed that “Adam and Eve” is one of over 1,300 paintings looted from Goudstikker’s collection. The donors, unaware of the artwork’s history, collaborated with the museum to contact Von Saher, leading to the restitution.

Amelia Keuning, a member of Von Saher’s legal team, emphasised the importance of global museums adopting stringent provenance protocols to aid the ongoing quest for Nazi-looted artworks. Despite this success, previous restitution attempts by the Goudstikker family faced setbacks, notably in 2019 when the US Supreme Court declined an appeal, allowing the Norton Simon Museum to retain two looted masterpieces.

The Goudstikker Art Research Project continues its efforts, seeking over 800 missing works looted by Hermann Göring, Hitler’s second-in-command. Some paintings were restituted in 2006 after being acquired by Göring, yet challenges persist. Notably, the German city of Trier restituted a Dutch painting to Von Saher last year, highlighting the ongoing struggle to recover Nazi-looted art across the globe.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date