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The Gazette (Montreal)

October 18, 2006 Wednesday
Final Edition
HEADLINE: Concordia to unveil painting Nazis looted: First public
viewing in about 70 years. Sleuths uncover about 40 of 400 works art
dealer Max Stern had to leave behind

BYLINE: PEGGY CURRAN, The Gazette

The first painting in a multi-million-dollar cache that vanished when
art dealer Max Stern fled Nazi Germany has been recovered and is about
to have its first public appearance in 70 years.

Tomorrow afternoon, Concordia University will unveil the as yet
unspecified work, one of hundreds that were seized or stolen in 1936
when Stern escaped, first to England, then to Canada.

Clarence Epstein, director of special projects at Concordia, has spent
the last six years on the trail of Stern’s elusive Dusseldorf
collection, working with Interpol and agencies like New York’s Holocaust
Claims Processing Office, the Art Loss Register and the Commission for
Looted Art in Europe.

During a distinguished career in Canada, Stern gained a reputation for
identifying Canadian talent, showcasing the works of Jean-Paul Riopelle,
Goodridge Roberts, Emily Carr and Paul-emile Borduas at the Dominion
Gallery on Sherbrooke St.

But he never gave up his quest for the ones that got away – roughly 400
pieces that spanned from the Renaissance to the Impressionists and early
20th century realism.

With works by Jan Bruegel, Annibale Carracci, Franz Winterhalter,
Hieronymus Bosch and Max Liebermann, Epstein estimated the value of the
missing treasure trove at “tens and tens of millions of dollars.”

Acting on behalf of Concordia, McGill University and Hebrew University –
the key benefactors of Max and Iris Stern’s estate – Epstein’s team
combed art catalogues and databases for paintings listed in Stern’s
ledgers. By spring, the art detectives had tracked 40 paintings listed
and sold by 15 auction houses over the last 20 years, surfacing in
national galleries in Europe, a casino in Taiwan and the estate of an
elderly German baroness in Rhode Island.

A Concordia official said yesterday that Montrealers will have an
opportunity to see the painting after tomorrow’s unveiling at the
Faculty of Fine Arts Gallery in the new engineering and visual arts
building on Ste. Catherine St. She refused to say whether the painting
will stay at Concordia, however. Nor could she say whether Stern’s heirs
intend to keep it or any others that are recovered.

Tomorrow’s unveiling coincides with the opening of a photo retrospective
on the missing Max Stern collection in Concordia’s FOFA Gallery, on the
ground floor of the Integrated Engineering, Computer Science and Visual
Arts Complex, 1515 Ste. Catherine St. W.