Norway Museum To Return Nazi-Looted Matisse Painting to Heirs

'Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace' Worth $40 Million


By JTA

Published March 23, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A Norway musuem said it would return a Nazi-looted painting by Henri Matisse to the heirs of its former Jewish owner.

The Henie Onstad Art Center near Oslo, or HOK, announced Friday that it would return the 1937 painting “Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace,” which has been part of the museum’s collection since the HOK was established in 1961 by shipping magnate Niels Onstad and his wife, Olympic figure-skating champion Sonja Henie. Onstad acquired the artwork from Galerie Henri Benezit in Paris around 1950.

The painting is worth about $40 million, according to reports.

“Although it is HOK’s unwavering position that both Niels Onstad, and subsequently HOK, acquired the painting in good faith, HOK has chosen to adhere to international conventions and return the painting to Rosenberg’s heirs,” the museum said in a statement.

In June 2012, the heirs of the late art dealer Paul Rosenberg contacted the museum, which the statement said led to an “extensive investigation” to determine the artwork’s provenance. Norwegian law would have allowed the museum to keep the portrait.

The painting, which has been a centerpiece of the museum’s collection, was removed from display after the claim was made.

Rosenberg fled the Nazis to New York with his family in 1940. The Nazis confiscated 162 pieces of artwork he owned on Sept. 5. 1941, according to the museum.

Prior to including the painting in the museum’s collection, Onstad requested detailed provenance information but did not discover the Rosenberg claim, according to the museum.

It was the first case of Nazi-looted art discovered in Norway, the museum said in its statement, acknowledging that its decision will have an impact on other Norwegian institutions. The museum has called for the formation of a national committee to examine public collections for Nazi-looted art.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.