• gerard van weyenbergh

Wildenstein saga, part 3

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

To make pirouettes, Daniel was indeed the worthy heir of his father and his grandfather Nathan who had known how to build his legend by inventing beautiful stories.

Having left Alsace, occupied by the Prussians, at the age of 20, this small horse breeder first became the apprentice of a tailor from Vitry-le-François before . Stumbling across a client who wanted to sell paintings, this which brought him one thing leading to another to Drouot, where he quickly understood that there were great deals to be had for those who had a certain flair in painting.

Success having been quickly achieved, Nathan married the daughter of a printer after presenting himself to his in-laws as an orphan and the son of a rabbi without revealing his true origins. This lie was nevertheless quickly forgotten, especially as the small art dealer quickly became prosperous to the point of owning a beautiful mansion in Paris, a castle in Verrières-le-Buisson, and a magnificent racing stable.

His son Georges took over and knew how to make the paternal fortune grow despite the crisis of 1929 by accumulating purchases of modern works while doing business in the Soviet Union from where he brought back Rembrandts, Rubens, Raphaels, and Watteau exchanged by the Stalinist regime for tractors. The 1930s were difficult for the Wildensteins and so many customers ruined by the Wall Street crisis. Georges, however, managed to stay the course by buying the magazine "Beaux-Arts" and publishing reasoned catalogs, which led to him several amateurs wishing to have works in their possession authenticated.

In 1936, business gradually resumed, notably at the New York gallery opened by Nathan a few years earlier and the London gallery that Georges had just opened. Then came the world war during which Georges worked to save - with the means reported by Feliciano - the fabulous collection of paintings amassed for more than 60 years.

Daniel was even more enterprising than his father in enriching the family's collections, and seeing his colors often triumph on the racetrack. Become one of the greatest lords if not a legend of the art market. The latter would certainly have turned in his grave upon the announcement of the search carried out in the rue de la Boétie. The investigators from the OCBC have found bronzes by Giacometti or Bugatti and drawings from the Reinach collection which had been partly looted by the Nazis.

Daniel had already had trouble with heirs of families despoiled during the war, in particular those of the collector Alphonse Kann who had demanded the restitution of rare illuminated manuscripts from the 15th century that George had supposedly acquired knowingly. http://www.artcult.com news Adrian Darmon