Rogues' Gallery

The Evening Standard (London, England), August 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Rogues' Gallery


Byline: GODFREY BARKER

Christine Koenigs parks her bicycle beside a canal in Amsterdam, goes indoors and sits before the computer. She pulls down one of the box files that have taken over the apartment. 'To President Putin,' she begins. 'Your Excellency. I write to claim...' Or perhaps she is taking on the Dutch government: 'To the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science. I write to claim... ' Koenigs is an attractive 53-year-old whose life is entirely devoted to fighting the Second World War - or the art war that was a small part of the Second World War. She is in a battle to recover the single most valuable art loss of 1939 to 1945: 2,671 Old Master drawings from the collection of her grandfather - banker, art connoisseur, anti-Nazi and British spy Franz Koenigs. Three hundred and seven drawings are in Russia and the Russians won't give them back. The other 2,300 are in the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam and it won't give them back.

'My family have been betrayed,' she declares.

Her personal D-day comes this October when she confronts the Dutch Ministry of Culture in court and demands restitution.

In addition to the drawings, Christine Koenigs lays claim to the van Gogh that for 14 years, until 2004, was the most expensive picture in the world at $82.5 million: Portrait of Dr Gachet.

The portrait ('This man is sicker than I am,' van Gogh proclaimed) has gone to ground, but it is believed to be in Switzerland. The moment it is seen again, its owner will receive a writ of claim from Ms Koenigs. ' ''Dream on, Christine," that's what most people are thinking,' she shrugs. 'Yes, I am dreaming. I dream of the day when Franz Koenigs' art is shown in Amsterdam at the Koenigs Foundation.' Does she also dream about the money? Does she have any sense of what these 2,671 drawings by (among others) Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Durer, Holbein, Rubens, Rembrandt, Watteau, and Cezanne are worth?

'I have every idea what they're worth,' she replies crisply. 'There are hardly any that will fetch less than [pounds sterling]50,000. Of course I've thought about this. I buy Old Master drawings.' Christine Koenigs is, in fact, seeking Christine Koenigs is fighting to reclaim the [pounds sterling]1 billion art collection the Nazis stole from her grandfather.

Godfrey Barker investigates a world of Italian pasta billionaires, Red Army looters and a body under a train the return of art worth up to [pounds sterling]1 billion.

Her life was a quiet one until 1987. She is the daughter of Franz Friedrich Koenigs, an agricultural engineer. She studied art in Amsterdam and Arnheim, and did sixth form in England. 'I was at Battle Abbey [a girls' private boarding school in East Sussex]. I went riding at Benenden. Quite a culture shock.' She went on to Paris before settling in Amsterdam where she became a portrait painter.

Then, in 1987, 33 Franz Koenigs drawings suddenly surfaced in Dresden and Leipzig. They were sent back to Holland by the German government - but not to the Koenigs.

'The family were upset when the drawings were returned to the Dutch government. My father, especially, was disturbed,' says Christine. Franz Friedrich was the third of Koenigs' six children with his wife Countess Anna von Kalckreuth.

'He felt we must fight to get the rest back but, somehow, it was too emotional.' For Franz Koenigs' other children also 'it was too difficult'.

Up to this point, the Koenigs family had done nothing about the sale in 1940 of most of Franz Koenigs' magnificent collection of drawings and paintings - a sale that took place as the German army massed on the Dutch border. It had also done nothing about the fact that 527 drawings were still missing.

Christine began to ask questions about matters the family had long buried.

She asked more urgently when 307 missing Koenigs drawings were 'discovered' in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts annexe in Moscow, in 1989. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Rogues' Gallery
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.