In another life I would have been an art thief– or an art investigator, insurance agent, etc. I am simply fascinated by the value we place on art (it makes the living worthwhile) and the act of stealing art–and the act of recovering that stolen art. My interest began a few years ago when my mom and I began reading novels and non-fiction books about the subject–and I’m just hooked. The Gardner Museum Heist, Nazi theft of art, Monuments Men–all the stories are just spellbinding. So of course I fell in love with the story of Maria Altman who fought the Austrian government to reclaim the portrait of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer, painted by Gustav Klimt and stolen by the Nazis.
The movie got lukewarm reviews–but I loved it. I think what happened during WWII was horrific, but these are stories that we need to tell over and over again. The Holocaust was not only a mass murder of a people; it was a theft of people’s culture, homes, memories and was orchestrated by the Nazi government. I have jewelry, dishes, artwork in my home that are made special because those things belonged to my grandparents or were family heirlooms. I can’t imagine those items being stolen from off of my walls or off of my tables because of my religion. As much as the stories of the Nazis stealing from people can be down right upsetting, I found comfort in the justice that Marie Altman’s story contains. Art does make life bearable. While we can have debates about who owns what and museum’s roles in the care of art, in this particular case (and others like it) I don’t think that anyone can argue that the surviving families of the Holocaust, or those whose possessions were stolen by Nazis, should have their belongings returned.
So see the movie! Tell me what you think! I also read the book (pictured above)–it goes into way more detail, and also made me long to go to the opera in Vienna (I have shoes that would look great there). Also, because any excuse to shop, the Neue Galerie in New York (where Adele’s portrait now hangs) is selling this specialty lipstick set inspired by the painting. Of course I bought one and of course I love it!
Wishing you a week of amazing art, some history lessons, and of course fabulous fashion!