Swiss Museum Removes Works by Artists Like Monet, Van Gogh as Origin of Nazi-Looted Art Examined

A man walks past the entrance of the Kunsthaus Zürich art museum on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
A man walks past the entrance of the Kunsthaus Zürich art museum on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
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Swiss Museum Removes Works by Artists Like Monet, Van Gogh as Origin of Nazi-Looted Art Examined

A man walks past the entrance of the Kunsthaus Zürich art museum on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
A man walks past the entrance of the Kunsthaus Zürich art museum on March 14, 2023. (AFP)

A Swiss museum on Thursday pulled down five paintings, including a van Gogh and a Monet, after the foundation that owns them called for a deeper look at their origins following new US guidelines on how to handle artworks once confiscated by the Nazis.

The Foundation E.G. Bührle Collection, which owns the works formerly shown at the Kunsthaus Zürich museum, said it was looking to reach a “fair and equitable solution” with the legal successors of the former owners, who were not identified.

The foundation’s board called for a new assessment of the works under new “Best Practices” published by the US State Department in March on how to deal with Nazi-confiscated art, as an upgrade to principles adopted in 1998.

“This is an important step in implementing the new Best Practices, now endorsed by 24 countries, including Switzerland,” Stuart Eizenstat, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s special adviser on Holocaust issues and a key architect of the principles, said in an email.

The works include the oil paintings “Jardin de Monet à Giverny” by Claude Monet from 1895, and “Der alte Turm” by Vincent van Gogh, of 1884. The other three are 19th-century works by French painters Gustave Courbet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin.

A sixth painting, Edouard Manet’s “La Sultane,” was also considered as “a case deserving particular attention,” the foundation said in a statement last Friday.

The foundation said it was ready to make a financial contribution to the estate of Max Silberberg, a German Jew and art collector who died with his wife at the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, in connection with the Manet out of respect to his “tragic destiny.”

Bührle, a German-born industrialist and weapons manufacturer who became Swiss in the late 1930s, oversaw a company that supplied the Axis powers including Nazi Germany, the foundation said.

Its collection of 203 works, given as a permanent loan to the Zurich museum in October 2021, is “one of the world’s most important collections of Impressionism with world-famous works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, Manet, etc.,” the foundation said.

It said it has no reason to believe that other works in the collection fall under the scope of the “best practices,” but it will assess any new findings from previously undiscovered sources along with museum curators.

The foundation has issued a list of all 633 works that the industrialist acquired between 1936 and 1956, and says a review of the origins of those works was updated last year. The five works were pulled down as part of a new assessment.

After World War II, Douglas Cooper, a British army officer and art connoisseur, was asked by the Allies to investigate the disappearance of thousands of artworks. In a report that was declassified in Washington in 1975, Cooper identified Bührle as the largest Swiss buyer of art taken by the Nazis.



Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba Signs Strategic Partnership with UNESCO to Foster STEM Education in Arab States

Mawhiba signs a significant partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries. (SPA)
Mawhiba signs a significant partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba Signs Strategic Partnership with UNESCO to Foster STEM Education in Arab States

Mawhiba signs a significant partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries. (SPA)
Mawhiba signs a significant partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity “Mawhiba” signed on Friday a significant partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aimed at fostering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries.

The partnership marks a pivotal moment in advancing innovation, creativity, and scientific excellence in the region, Mawhiba said in a statement.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Dr. Lidia Arthur Brito and Saudi Ambassador to France and Monaco Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili joined esteemed colleagues and distinguished guests to commemorate the occasion.

The agreement was signed by Mawhiba deputy secretary-general for business development and communication Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al-Subail and UNESCO’s Brito.

Mawhiba secretary-general Dr. Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazzaa expressed the foundation's profound honor to partner with UNESCO. She emphasized the shared commitment to empowering young Arab minds and advancing sustainable development through education and innovation.

Highlighting the Kingdom’s progress in STEM under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Dr. Al-Hazzaa underscored the importance of this collaboration within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.

UNESCO’s Brito expressed her happiness in signing the strategic partnership with Mawhiba, adding that it addresses an important area of UNESCO’s work in the field of science.

Dr. Brito stated that this strategic partnership aims to provide young people with the necessary knowledge and capabilities and to motivate them to use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to meet global challenges.

She added that the experience gained by Mawhiba in working with youth in Saudi Arabia will help in exchanging these experiences globally. She pointed out that there is potential for expanding these efforts to Africa and other parts of the world to promote sustainable development goals.

The strategic partnership aims to enhance STEM education for students from 6th grade to 12th grade across Arab states, focusing on refining their scientific knowledge, nurturing creativity, and fostering critical thinking. Special attention will be given to empowering Arab girls and young women, ensuring they have equal opportunities to excel in STEM fields.

Central to the initiative is the MAWHIBA-UNESCO Online STEM Oasis, which will serve as a global platform for local, national, and regional science and engineering fairs. The initiative aims to provide Arab students with valuable opportunities to showcase their talents and gain international recognition.

Additionally, the partnership will implement real-time assessments of middle and high schools in Arab states to elevate educational standards and infrastructure.

Recognizing the pivotal role of educators, the partnership will focus on training Arab science teachers to lead research and guide students in scientific projects, thereby boosting the overall quality of STEM education. Public understanding of STEM will be bolstered through targeted training programs, particularly for preschoolers and young women, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility of STEM education across Arab States.

Mawhiba is committed to expanding the use of the UNESCO Open Science Portal and the UNESCO Science-2-Innovation Network to build the capacity of young scientists and women in STEM education globally. Over the past three years, Mawhiba has supported 839 students from Arab states through enriching STEM programs, setting a precedent for regional cooperation and development in STEM education.

The partnership underscores Mawhiba’s leading role in discovering talents and empowering students in STEM, both locally and internationally. It represents a shared vision for creating opportunities for all Arab states to thrive and excel in STEM fields, fostering a culture of scientific inquiry and technological advancement that will benefit the entire Arab region.

By joining forces with UNESCO, Mawhiba aims to amplify its ability to address global challenges such as climate change, health crises, and technological disruptions. The collaboration aims to inspire young Arab minds to pursue careers in STEM, providing them with access to cutting-edge research and resources through initiatives like the UNESCO Open Science Portal.

The partnership between Mawhiba and UNESCO signifies a shared commitment to a brighter future, dedicated to building capacities in STEM fields to support sustainable development. By working together, they aim to create an environment where every young Arab mind can thrive, innovate, and contribute to the global community. This initiative underscores the importance of investing in the future and ensuring every child has the opportunity to explore, experiment, and excel in science and technology.