Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring standing on
the steps of Goudstikker's gallery.
Within weeks of Goudstikker's death, his collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and antiques were looted by the Nazis. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, Adolf Hitler's second-in-command, took approximately eight hundred of the most valuable works back to Germany, where many were displayed in his several residences. Some of the works of art not kept by Göring were given to Hitler to be placed in a museum he was planning for his hometown of Linz, Austria.
The gallery itself and Goudstikker's country estates were transferred to Göring's henchman Alois Miedl in a forced sale for a fraction of their value. This "sale" was imposed over Dési's express objection, even though, after Jacques' death, she controlled a majority of the gallery's outstanding shares. Miedl continued to operate the gallery under the Goudstikker name throughout the war, profiting from its infrastructure, remaining stock, and respected reputation. The forced sale and looting of the Goudstikker Gallery was among the largest single acts of plundering of a significant art collection by the Nazis.
Jacques Goudstikker's inventory notebook,
Open: approx. 7 x 9 in. (17.8 x 22.9 cm)
Amsterdam City Archives
Flip through the pages > (27 mb)
In the years immediately after the war, over two hundred paintings looted from Goudstikker's collection were located by the Allies in Germany and returned to the Netherlands with the expectation that they would be restituted to the rightful owner. Despite Dési's efforts to recover them, however, the Dutch government kept the works in its national collections.
During the late 1990s, new information about Nazi-looted artworks in the Dutch government's national collection became available as part of a larger reexamination of post-war restitution practices. This inspired Jacques Goudstikker's family to take up the task that Dési had been unable to complete and to try again to reclaim his legacy. The efforts of the family, working with a team of art historians and legal experts, culminated in the restitution of 200 artworks from the Goudstikker Collection by the Dutch government in February 2006. It is one of the largest restitutions of Nazi-looted art.
More than a thousand works have yet to be restituted, and the quest continues.