Customer Review

Reviewed in Australia on 7 November 2015
I realise I'm a bit late reading and reviewing Simon Goodman's book, "The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis". There's not much I can add to the other favorable reviews.

Seventy or so years ago, Simon's grandparents - both converted Jews to Lutheranism - had their privately-art treasures stolen "legally" from their house in the Netherlands by the Nazis. Fritz and Louise Gutmann - their son changed the name to Goodman - had been collecting art for years and building on the collection inherited from Fritz's father, Eugen. Eugen Gutmann had founded a bank in Dresden that later merged with others to form the Dresdner Bank. The huge bank was "Aryanised" during the Nazi era, but by then Eugen had died. His son Fritz was the family keeper and continued his father's art collecting. Their collection was fairly varied - everything from Rembrandt to a Franz Stuck portrait of a women and a snake in a VERY compromising position! Fritz and Louise had fled from Germany to Holland with their paintings, sculptures, and silver collection. That silver collection - the Eugen Gutmann Silversammlung - and their refusal to give it up after having lost so much else to the Nazis - was the cause of Fritz and Louise's deaths in Nazi concentration camps.

Their son - Bernard - had been able to emigrate to England before the war began. He had been born in England during his parents' stay during the First World war. His sister - Lili - had found relative safety in Italy through her marriages to Italian men. After the war, Bernard began the agonising search for his parents' stolen art pieces. But he was thwarted in his search through governmental stonewalling and for the next 50 years - until his death in the mid-1990's - he found very few pieces. After his death, he "bequeathed" the search to his two sons, Simon and Nick.
They took up where he left off and the book is the story of their search for the pieces of art that had been scattered through the world, both during and after the war. Pieces were bought and sold and in most cases, the buyers didn't look too hard at the provenance of the pieces.

Eventually, through great use of the internet data bases, Simon and Nick were able to track down many pieces of the Gutmann collection. The book also details their use of the law in getting these pieces returned to their rightful owners. (Simon and Nick Goodman were not the only people searching for their family's treasures. He mentions the Maria Altmann/Randol Schoenberg fight for the Gustav Klimpt paintings of Maria's aunt, as detailed in the movie, "Woman in Gold")

Simon Goodman is a very good writer and his account of both his family's history and the fight to regain their lost legacy is wonderful reading. Included in the book are some family pictures, but also pictures of some of the pieces he and his brother fought to save. He credits others in helping them in their search and battles. Very good book.
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