The descendants of a collector of jewish art stolen under the Occupation attack on Tuesday in court the State and two museums to ask for the restitution of three paintings of the fauvist André Derain exposed for years to Troyes and Marseille.

The discussions promise to be difficult between the heirs of the great parisian gallery owner René Gimpel on the one hand, and the ministry of Culture and the museums of modern art of Troyes and Cantini in Marseille, on the other hand. The first call for “justice”, the latter argue the legality of the acquisition of new works – Landscape at Cassis , La Chapelle-sous-Crécy and Pine, Cassis , painted between 1907 and 1910. The museums believe that a doubt exists on the correlation between the paintings made and paintings that they hold, some of which have changed name or been were recovered. A dispute painful, where no one thinks to question the suffering and the despoliation suffered by the family Gimpel.

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one of the greatest collectors of the period between the two wars

To her granddaughter Claire, René Gimpel was for a long time a family legend, a resistant jew who died in the camp of Neuengamme in January 1945. She discovered late that it was one of the greatest art collectors of the period between the two world wars. Like other gallery owners, the jews, it will be stolen, forced to sell at a low price of works to finance the escape of his family to London, or his resistance network.

Claire Gimpel decides, with the other four heirs, to fight for “find and retrieve all the works that belonged to his grandfather,” which have “not yet been returned,” said to AFP Me Corinne Hershkovitch. For the lawyer, who has obtained 20 years ago the return by the Louvre museum of a painting stolen from the property as the identity of the works no doubt.

documents that prove that René Gimpel bought six Derain in 1921 auction at Drouot during the dispersal of the collection of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. For the heirs, three of these paintings are in the museums of Troyes and Marseille. They ask for the refund, based on an order of April 1945 on the invalidity of acts of spoliation.

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gallery of paris Gimpel sacked

The evidence of these works were lost during the war, the parisian gallery of Gimpel was ransacked, 82 crates of paintings and other art objects have been confiscated – but the family has reconstituted a catalogue, with the help of a british scientist and an american lawyer.

I Hershkovitch has started, in vain, in 2013 discussions with the ministry of Culture and museums of France in order to obtain the restitution of the cloths. “We will always demand more evidence, we hang out”, she laments, explaining that it will be resolved to assign to the State court.

To Beatrice Cohen, a lawyer for the Museum of modern art of Troyes, “there are too many assumptions in this case so that we can truly know the paths of these two works of Derain” exposed to Troyes and to “find out if they were still in the heritage of René Gimpel after June 16, 1940”.

the opposition of The museums is much stronger, for its part, considers the lawyer of the heirs Gimpel, that it is works great. A painting such as the Pine, Cassis is “the flagship piece of the museum Cantini” in Marseille, ” she says. In the catalogue of the museum, this exceptional oil on canvas, 54 by 64 cm breathes the atmosphere of a late summer afternoon: when the red-orange eat the earth, leaving piercing the dark blue of the trunks of pine and the sea, crushed light in the distance. One hears almost the cicadas.

a few months ago, the French justice has confirmed – in – call- restitution to his descendants a gouache of Pissarro, “The gathering”, held by Americans who had legally purchased in the auction. These latter are filled to the supreme court. The case of Derain could experience the same fate.