Three paintings seized by the Nazis in the 1930s and discovered decades later in museums in Germany have raised more than £530,000 at auction for a UK sight loss charity.
Vision Foundation has this month benefitted from the £206,500 sale at auction of The Compassionate Child (The Beggar), by 19th century Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller.
Two other Waldmüller paintings left to the charity sold for more than £330,000 in November last year.
This takes the total raised from the three paintings to just under £536,800.
The paintings had been part of a private collection belonging to Irma and Oscar Löwenstein, members of Vienna’s Jewish community before the Second World War. They fled Austria in 1938 leaving behind their valuable private collection of artworks, which were seized by the Nazis for a planned Führermuseum in Linz.
Following Irma’s death in the 1970s her estate was left to Vision Foundation, then known as Greater London Fund for the Blind.
More than 40 years later the charity learned that the paintings had come to light in museums across Germany. As beneficiaries of Irma's will, Vision Foundatrion had rights of restitution to recover the items.
Incredible! Massive fundraising boost for @Vision_Fdn as painting, stolen by Nazis and recently re-discovered, sells for €240,000 - €40,000 more than highest estimate! https://t.co/yuK68EQ7Rp #Legacies— Vision Foundation (@Vision_Fdn) June 7, 2021
Vision Foundation chief executive Olivia Curno said she is “over the moon” with the sale of the paintings.
“We’re celebrating our centenary by launching an appeal to address the shockingly poor employment rates of visually impaired people. Because they are so often excluded from work, 66% of blind and partially sighted people live in poverty, and tell us they feel isolated and excluded,” she added.
“The funds raised by these three paintings will help us to deliver projects which empower people, educate employers, and change policy and public attitudes. Without Irma’s generous decision nearly 50 years ago, we wouldn’t be in a position to deliver this vital work.”