12 Jul 2017

Important work attributed to Simon de Vlieger returned to Poland

The Art Loss Register identified the work on sale last year and it has now been returned to Poland

PRESS RELEASE, APRIL 2017 

A ceremony was held at the National Museum of Warsaw in April to mark the return of ‘Rough sea with ships’ by Simon de Vlieger. The work was stolen during the Warsaw Uprising by the head of propaganda during the Nazi occupation of Poland Wilhelm Ohlenbusch, and taken to Oldenburg near Hamburg. The work was located by the Art Loss Register last year, and has now been returned to Poland.

After the war, De Vlieger's picture was considered a war loss and was recorded by the Polish Ministry of Culture in their database of war losses, as well as in the Interpol database and the Art Loss Register database. The fate of the work remained unknown until May 2016, when the Art Loss Register sent a request for information to the Ministry of Culture for a lot that was offered for sale at a German auction house. Based on the documentation provided by the Ministry, the Art Loss Register requested for the object to be withdrawn from the auction. The Ministry of Culture inspected the work and confirmed its identity by comparing it to pre-war photographs and carrying out a conservator’s assessment of the canvas. 

Art Loss Register's James Ratcliffe and Katya Hills at the presentation ceremony in April

After half a year negotiations assisted by the Art Loss Register and concluded by the Germany lawyer Prof. Peter Raue, the Ministry of Culture came to an amicable settlement with the current owner and secured the return of the work to Poland.