“In its first ruling on a matter involving a musical instrument, a German panel established to mediate disputes over cultural objects looted during the Third Reich has decided that a Nuremberg foundation should compensate the heirs of a man whose prized 18th-century violin is thought to have been confiscated by the Nazis or lost following a forced sale,” write Graham Bowley and Carla Shapreau in Friday’s (12/9) New York Times. “In its decision Wednesday, the Limbach Commission said the violin … reportedly by Cremonese violin-maker Giuseppe Guarneri … found that the heirs of Felix Hildesheimer were entitled to a remedy. Mr. Hildesheimer, a German Jew who had run a music business in Speyer, Germany, purchased the Guarneri from Stuttgart violin dealer Fridolin Hamma in 1938. Unable to escape from Nazi Germany, Mr. Hildesheimer committed suicide in 1939 and his family’s property was confiscated…. In 1974, [the violin] was purchased in good faith by violinist Sophie Hagemann in Cologne. She bequeathed it to the Franz Hofmann and Sophie Hagemann Foundation in Nuremberg in 2010…. The commission valued the violin at $158,000 and recommended that the foundation compensate Mr. Hildesheimer’s [two] grandsons for two-thirds of its value, but retain the violin for use and performances.”

Posted December 14, 2016