• gerard van weyenbergh

Wildenstein Saga, best movie scenario ever, part 1

As respected as that of the Rothschilds, the Wildenstein family had seemed overpowered and untouchable after its patriarch Daniel had intelligently enriched his art collections and grown his assets. Today the reputation of this legendary dynasty has been brutally damaged after various lawsuits concerning the real state of his succession.

Even more famous than his father George as a collector and dealer.

Daniel Wildenstein had managed to become the specialist for painters of the 18th century and Monet while having published numerous works and created an institution bearing his name to establish his notoriety even more.

Having taken the direction of the gallery founded by his father Nathan, Georges had already consolidated the Wildenstein empire by directing the Gazette des Beaux-Arts and by founding the review Arts while establishing the catalogs reasoned of the work of Gauguin and Chardin. For his part, Daniel remained somewhat in the shadow of his father before finally having free rein after the latter's death in 1963.

From there, Daniel was able to breathe new life into the Wildenstein Gallery by showing himself as formidable as his father. The feat of the latter was to be able to save a good part of his art collections during the Occupation thanks to one of its directors named Dequoy when he had fled the Nazis to take refuge in New York.

Returning to Paris at the end of the war, Georges Wildenstein was able to resume his business and develop quickly while the Nazis had looted the collections of several of his competitors of Jewish origin. Still, for 50 years, no one questioned his insolent luck, which allowed him to preserve his collection during the war.

In the meantime, Georges knew how to artfully prepare Daniel for his succession by revealing to him day after day the secrets of his success and, in particular, the various means and tips for growing the family fortune best.

Respected by museum curators and great collectors, Daniel also showed a rare intelligence in imagining that many masterpieces remained to be discovered in Paris or elsewhere. It led him to open his door to anonymous amateurs who sought to authenticate works discovered in current auction sales in Drouot or small antique stores.

Already having the upper hand over many artists of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century, Daniel was able to make many rediscoveries right under the nose of rival merchants who mostly showed condescension for small collectors. In addition, Daniel could often by his position decide alone the authenticity or not of a work presented to him and sometimes give positive opinions that other experts would never have dared to give while few were those who dared go against his omnipotence. Thus, it was not recommended to discuss or refuse the price he was offering for a work that was presented to him at the risk of seeing the artwork refused for authenticity.

While being firm, Daniel knew how to be accommodating towards his visitors and somewhat authoritarian, as his father had been with him. His only weak point was to have a seductive side. It led him to divorce his first wife to marry Sylvia Roth he spoiled during his lifetime while making arrangements so that the fabulous heritage of the Wildenstein family is well preserved after his death.

Thinking beyond the 90 years mark as he was always so active, the famous merchant did not see death arrive. He was hospitalized for intestinal problems or according to gossip to undergo a cosmetic surgery operation to rejuvenate himself. Daniel suddenly passed in mid-October of the year 2001 after being deeply affected by the publication in 1995 of the book "The Missing Museum" written by art historian Hector Feliciano who accused his father of having collaborated with the Nazis during the Occupation to save his fabulous collections.

Artcult.com - Adrian Darmon 02/2011