Gisela Martin was a housekeeper who died with a modest estate. Little did she know that her former employer, the late Harry Fuld Jr – an industrialist who lost everything to the Nazis – had left her a collection of art and sculptures. By the time Fuld’s gift to his former employee was discovered, both were long gone. However, the Fuld estate passed to Martin and this became her estate.
What happened next was and indeed continues to be, truly incredible. Gisela Martin, unbeknownst to anyone, left what she believed to be her inconsequential assets and belongings to Magen David Adom UK. At the time of her death, this barely registered on the radar. However, once the Fuld link was made, her estate became both life-changing and life-saving.
Fuld Jr had left his former housekeeper piece after piece of valuable and highly sought after objets d’art which were inherited from his father. Furthermore, Fuld’s former possessions continue to be tracked down by lawyers and returned to their now rightful owners.
A restitution ceremony was held in April of this year at the French Ministry of Culture in Paris. The French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malik, returned a prized sculpture to Magen David Adom UK.
Daniel Burger, MDA UK Chief Executive; and the French Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malik
The La Vierge de Pitié, 1495 / 1500 (Fin du XVe siècle) by Gil de Siloe, Atelier de Espagne
The La Vierge de Pitié, 1495 / 1500 (Fin du XVe siècle), Gil de Siloe, Atelier de Espagne was recovered after World War II; retrieved by the Office des Biens et Intérêts Privés (OBIP); and has been part of the Louvre collection until such time as the legal owners were located. After intense research, the Fuld family estate was identified as the rightful owner. The renaissance sculpture was auctioned off by Christie’s on behalf of MDA UK, and the money will be used towards the life-saving services provided by MDA in Israel.
Le Mur Rose (Paysage, le mur rose; Landscape, the Pink Wall) by Henri Matisse
This is just the most recent piece of restituted art returned to Magen David Adom UK. Previously, pieces included the famous Le Mur Rose (1898), a painting by Henri Matisse. This was recovered by the French police from a cache of art stored near the notorious Nazi SS Officer Kurt Gerstein’s home in Germany. It was restituted in 2008 and now hangs in the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt.
Even long after the passing of Harry Fuld Junior, his expansive art collection is slowly being restituted to the benefit of Magen David Adom UK and the saving of lives in Israel and across the globe.