three Kangxi vases
Nazi-looted cultural property

Museum Glauchau restitutes vase ensemble

Rightful heirs of the Ottmar Strauss Collection, Cologne, to receive three Kangxi vases

On 28 May 2024, Museum Glauchau will be restituting three Kangxi vases to the heirs of the Ottmar Strauss Collection, Cologne. The museum acquired the objects through a donation.

Museum Glauchau currently houses a collection consisting of almost 100,000 individual items, including the art collection which formerly belonged to Prof. Dr. Paul Geipel (1869-1956). From 1943 to 1956, the Dresden physician and patron of the arts bequeathed a considerable part of his extensive collection to the town of Glauchau, totalling more than 14,000 items.

Since 2021 these donated objects have been specifically investigated for suspected cases of art and cultural property confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution. A research project funded by the German Lost Art Foundation took a closer look at the provenance of more than 300 such objects, including items from East Asia, porcelain, prints, books, furniture, historical weapons and bronzes.

Among the project artefacts there is one specific case in which it was possible to establish beyond doubt that the object in question is an item of artistic and cultural value that was seized as a result of Nazi persecution. It is an ensemble consisting of three Asian porcelain vases from the Kangxi era (1654-1722). From 1721 onwards, the vases were part of the art collection belonging to Augustus the Strong (1670-1733). The State Porcelain Collection in Dresden sold a considerable share of its collection in 1919/1920 – including these Kangxi vases.

There is evidence to show that in 1931 the vase ensemble formed part of a collection belonging to Jewish industrialist Ottmar Edwin Strauss (1878-1941) in Cologne. Since he was planning to escape from Nazi Germany, Strauss sold the vases to pay the required “Reich Flight Tax”. On 6 and 7 November 1934 the vases were auctioned off at the Frankfurt auction house Hugo Helbing to Prof. Dr. Paul Geipel, who later donated them to the citizens of Glauchau.

Following the completion of the provenance research project on the Paul Geipel art collection, the vases will now be restituted to the representative of Ottmar Strauss’ rightful heirs.

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Bottom of a Kangxi vase of the donated Geipel Collection