A Dutch Old Master painting looted by the Nazis in the dying days of World War II is to be auctioned after it was discovered hanging in the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London and returned late last year to its rightful owners.
“The Oyster Meal” by Jacob Ochtervelt was on show last week in the Amsterdam offices of auction house Sotheby’s. It goes on show at Sotheby’s in New York and Hong Kong later this month before being auctioned on July 4 in London with a pre-sale estimate of US$2-3.4 million.
Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the 97-year-old daughter of an Arnhem children’s doctor who originally owned the painting, never forgot it, recalling that it had pride of place in her father’s waiting room.
Ochtervelt’s oil on canvas masterpiece, from 1664-65, shows a man presenting a plate of oysters to a warmly-lit, seated young woman.
Bischoff van Heemskerck was reunited with the painting last year at a ceremony in London, now she has decided to sell it to pass on the proceeds to the children of her siblings. After the war, the painting changed hands several times before the family tracked it down.
Bischoff van Heemskerck said tracking down the missing art was not a priority in the immediate aftermath of the war, as her father sought to re-establish his children’s hospital.
“My father said, ‘we won’t talk about the missing things,’” she said. “We will just live again.”