Glasgow payout over art looted by Nazis from Jews

Emma Budge's heirs claimed payment over the tapestry entitled The Visitation in the Burrell Collection. Picture: PA
Emma Budge's heirs claimed payment over the tapestry entitled The Visitation in the Burrell Collection. Picture: PA
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A PAYMENT is to be made to the heirs of a German-born Jewish woman after an artwork looted by the Nazis ended up in one of Scotland’s best-known museums.

The claim centres around a 16th-century Swiss tapestry fragment entitled The Visitation, which forms part of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

The Burrell Collection, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry

The Burrell Collection, Glasgow. Picture: Robert Perry

It was lodged by the heirs of the tapestry’s previous owner, Emma Budge, and a payout has been agreed by Glasgow City Council following a decision by an expert panel.

The council said it has led the way in attempting to identify objects that may have been acquired as a result of Nazi atrocities and insisted it has a “moral duty” to put the mistakes of the past right.

The 81cm x 78cm tapestry depicts the pregnant Virgin Mary and Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John the Baptist.

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It is a fragment cut from a larger tapestry and fashioned into the shape of an ecclesiastical cope hood.

It was owned by Mrs Budge, an art collector born in Hamburg who had obtained American citizenship.

She and her husband Henry lived in the US for many years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where they accumulated wealth through his involvement in banking and the expansion of the railways.

But following her death in Hamburg on 14 February, 1937, her family was forced to sell her art collection.

At some stage that year, the tapestry came into the possession of a man named John Hunt, from whom Sir William Burrell bought it on 8 August, 1938.

Over subsequent years, he later transferred his collection of about 9,000 cultural objects – including the tapestry – to the city of Glasgow.

The UK government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Spoliation Advisory Panel considers claims from anyone, or their heirs, whose cultural property was looted by the Nazis and is now in a UK national collection or another museum or gallery.

It looked at the claim from Mrs Budge’s estate and concluded that an ex-gratia payment reflecting the current market value should be made to the claimants in respect of the tapestry fragment.

The sum is to be agreed between the parties or independent valuer if they are unable to agree. The council said it had previously indicated that it would abide by the panel’s recommendations.

Councillor Archie Graham, depute leader of the council and chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow has led the way in attempting to identify objects that may have been acquired as a result of Nazi atrocities and has been posting details of objects where provenance may not be certain on the UK government’s website since 1998.

“In cases where a claim is proven, the city has always been resolute that it has a moral duty to put right the mistakes of the past, no matter how long the passage of time.”