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par Fanny Guyomard and Constance Cabouret

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Fanny Guyomard and Constance Cabouret
Places and Characters

Who is Friedrich Welz, Joséphine Boudin, Friedrich Rainer ?

What is the Landesgalerie, The Residence ?

 

You will find here a summary of the major characters and places of our story.

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Friedrich Welz (1903-1980)

He was one of the leading art dealers of the Third Reich. He bought Mona Lisa painting in 1941 and put it in the Landesgalerie of Salzburg of which he was the director. A report of the Nazis described him as an opportunist. It is said he had two goals in his life : win money and gain social prestige.

 

Why did he go to Paris ?

 

Welz had to buy objects for the Palace of Kleßheim — the Führer’s residence near Salzburg — to draw the attention of the Gauleiter, the leader of the province, in order to fulfil his dream : found a public gallery in Salzburg. The Gauleiter himself, in order to catch Hitler’s attention, wanted to furnish the Palace of Kleßheim.Therefore, Welz succeeded in convincing the Gauleiter to give him money for his purchases. He gave him 200,000 Reichsmarks. The art trader also worked for example for Bladur von Schirach, the leader of the Hitler Youth.

Thus, Friedrich Welz went five times in Paris and dealt with 43 sellers. At the beginning, he traded with private individuals.

Thanks to his relations with Nazis, Friedrich Welz became the director of the Landesgalerie of Salzburg.

 

It is difficult to understand Welz’s personality. For the Austrian historian, Gert Kerschbaumer, he was “ruthless and always serving the Nazi prominence”. After 1945, Welz considered himself as a victim, pointing out the legality of his purchases in Paris. But Kerschbaumer qualified this vision, using the term « semi-legal » transactions.

Friedrich Welz bought master pieces at low prices to sell them with high profits to the Reich. Nevertheless, Fritz Koller, the director of the archives of Salzburg, said Welz was favored by the exchange rate and did not necessary want to fool the art dealers.

 

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The Residence and the Landesgalerie of Salzburg
The Residence

The Residence

This huge palace of 180 rooms was the archbishop’s Residence. When the Landesgalerie was created, the Residence became its depot and its administrative desk.

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Landesgalerie in Salzburg

This gallery contained the public art collection of the Reichsgau (province) of Salzburg.

The construction began in autumn 1940 and was supervised by Welz who became its unofficial director. The gallery was officially found in 1942.

488 art objects were exposed. 312 of them (288 paintings and 24 sculptures) came from France, all of them from Paris and purchased by Welz.

From 1943, when the aerial warfare threatened the Landesgalerie, they moved the collections in shelters, for example in the Residence of Salzburg, in a Castle near Saalfden (100 km south from Salzburg), and above all in Friedrich Welz’s private villa in St. Gilgen (30 km to the east of Salzburg).

When the US army entered Austria in May 1945, they moved the paintings from the shelters to Salzburg. But only 198 (plus 19 discovered later) of the 312 objects of French provenance were found and restored to their country of origin.

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Friedrich Rainer

He was the Gauleiter (governor) of Salzburg between April 1940 and November 1941.

He gave 200,000 RM to Welz for his purchases in Paris.

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Joséphine Boudin

This unknown woman sold the Mona Lisa to Friedrich Welz in the city of Meudon, the seventeenth of May, 1941.

Is it her real name ? We do not know, and the few specialists we questioned did not know her.

Art objects number 557-558

 

In Fold3.com, a fold of 216 pages was called “Records related to property claims and the Many elements and the administration of property”. It was a register of the Landesgalerie archives. It was a blend of inventories, letters, and militarian reports.

The art objects were written in disorder. In a column (in the Landesgalerie inventory ?), the numbers 557-558 were skipped.

Fold3_Page_55Fold3_Page_56

 

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French Commission for Restitution

 

In 1944, the French government assigned a Commission to recover and give back looted objects to Jewish families.

60 000 objects were given back to France. The Commission examined around 2000 applications. Some of them were rejected, because there were not documents enough to prove who was the real owner, or because some of the art objects had been voluntarily sold.

In 1950, 45 000 goods were restituted. The rest was sold, except 2000 objects French museums chose for their collection. Thus, the Louvre kept the paintings of high quality, or curious and rare objects, and also forgeries.

 

In 1950, the government decided to close the Commission.

The Office of private goods and interests spelt the Commission for Restitution.

 

 

 

 

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