by Irina Tarsis*

Portrait of Paul Westheim

Paul Westheim (1886-1963) was an art critic who collected thousands of German Expressionist works by Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Klee and others. He left Germany in 1935, fleeing Nazi persecution, and gave his art collection to a modernist art dealer, Charlotte Weidler (1895-1983) for safekeeping. After the war, Weidler informed Westheim that his collection was destroyed. In fact, she kept it for herself.Now, Westheim’s daughter, Margot Frenk, of Mexico City, is seeking to return the paintings formerly in her father’s collection. Defendants are owners of the Yris Rabenou Gallery.

It is reported that Yris Rabenou serves as the executrix of the Weidler estate, while her children are Weidler’s sole heirs. In the complaint, Frenk seeks a declaratory judgement that she is the rightful owner of select artworks in Rabenou possession as well as $3.6 million for a painting that was sold in the late 1990s.

Attorneys for Frenk are Andrew Krinsky and Debra Bernstein, with Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP.

Source: Courthouse News Service.

About the Author: Irina Tarsis, Esq., is an attorney specializing in art and cultural heritage issues with focus on title disputes and provenance research. She may be reached at itsartlawATgmailDOTcom.