The wealthy family in Berlin spoke out against the rise of the Nazis early in their newspaper, the Berliner Tageblatt. The negative attention sparked Moss’s anger at the Nazis, who publicly criticized the family and later looted their extensive art collection.
“Mose’s family lost almost everything because they were Jewish, but they did not lose hope,” said U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon at a news conference. “While this certainly does not remove the pain suffered by the Moss, I hope it provides the family with some justice.”
Rudolf Mose was a prominent publisher from a well-known family. He bought the painting – also known as “Figure skaters” and “Snow” – directly from the artist in 1900 at the Great Berlin Art Exhibition.
Mose died in 1920, and the family’s collection and publications were passed on to his daughter when his wife died in 1924, according to federal court documents.
When the Nazis came to power, the family headed to the United States. Little did they know, and so did Winter, Bacon said.
The painting went from the Nazis to a number of people before businessman Bartlett Arkel bought it from a prominent gallery in 1934. There is no evidence that Arkel knew the painting had been stolen, Bacon said.
When the museum learned that the painting had been taken illegally, it handed over the art to the FBI in 2019.
Now the painting is with the Mose Foundation, which represents the other heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mose, Rudolf’s only daughter.
“This was one of the first major alienations undertaken by the Nazis, a model for what has unfortunately become a well-oiled machine,” Strauch, Rudolf Mose’s great-grandson, said Thursday.
“Winter is worth about hundreds of thousands, but the figure will be determined at auction,” said Strauch. The painting is expected to be sold at auction by Sotheby’s.
So far, Strauch has said there are three dozen successful restitutions of more than 50 Mose pieces. But there is still work to be done, he added.
There are eight ongoing restitutions in Poland, Sweden, Germany, Israel and the United States, he said.
“Although hundreds of thousands of works of art are believed to have been stolen by the Nazis, our office is extremely proud to help even one mistake made during this evil period in world history,” said FBI Assistant Special Agent Peter Magneto in the press conference.
“We may have played a small role in a huge effort, but we will forever recognize the greatness of this work, and we are really proud to be able to return this painting to its rightful owners,” he said.