|Landscape with Smokestacks, 1890, Edgar Degas|
In 1939, when they came to this country, Frederich and Louise Gutman changed their name to Goodman and began efforts to find and reclaim a pastel drawing by the French Impressionist, Edgar Degas, which they claimed was stolen from a Paris warehouse by the Nazis during the war. The work was entitled, Landscape with Smokestacks. It wasn't until 1987 that the drawing somehow made it's way to a New York art dealer where it was sold to the Searle Pharmaceutical Corporation founder, Daniel Searle, for $850,000. The work was purchased in good faith in what seemed at the time like a routine sale.
In 1995, Simon Goodman, one of the grandsons of the original owners, stumbled upon a photo of the painting in a book of Degas monographs. By then the drawing was worth $1.1 million. For over two years, attempts to contact Searle regarding the work of art were fruitless. Finally, the Goodman family attorney wrote Searle threatening litigation. Fortunately for all concerned, a settlement was quickly reached. Searle agreed to donate the painting to the Art Institute of Chicago which in return would purchase the Goodman's share for an undisclosed amount. Happily, everybody won, and the public can now view a work of art which, unfortunately, shares a dark past with thousands of other works confiscated during the Holocaust. The sad part is it took fifty years to reach such closure.