Emma Budge Collection, 2012

The Münchner Stadtmuseum has made restitution of a total of eight artefacts from the Emma Budge Collection. The works returned to the attorney representing the heirs comprise a bronze bust of the Prince Elector Max Emanuel of Bavaria, an ivory statuette of a knife grinder (early 18th century), a gilt-mounted ivory tankard (17th century), two chalice veils (17th century), one tabernacle curtain, one small oval tablecloth and one chasuble. By returning these artefacts, the Stadtmuseum is complying with the 1998 Washington Declaration and the 1999 Berlin Declaration of Germany’s Federal Government, Federal States (Länder) and National Associations of Local Governments promising to trace and return cultural assets seized as a result of Nazi persecution, particularly those belonging to Jewish owners.

The works of art listed above were acquired by the Münchner Stadtmuseum in October 1937 from the Berlin art dealer Paul Graupe at an auction of the estate of Emma Budge (17.2.1852 – 14.2.1937). This Jewish collector had put together one of Germany’s premiere collections of art and artistic treasures in Hamburg between 1903 and 1937. Following her death, the Nazi authorities seized the entire collection and brought it to Berlin in August 1937. The extensive private collection was sold at two auctions held at Paul Graupe’s Berlin auction house from 4 to 6 October and 6 to 7 December 1937. Instead of being handed over to Emma Budge’s heirs, the proceeds of the auction were paid into blocked accounts where they remained “in safekeeping” for the Third Reich.

The buyers included several German museums. Apart from the Münchner Stadtmuseum, other museums involved included the Landesmuseum Schwerin which acquired a Böttger stoneware statuette that has now also been returned to Emma Budge’s heirs. The heirs have also been paid compensation by Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe for two silver goblets obtained in Berlin in 1937, and a sculpture and cushion bearing a coat of arms were returned to them by the Focke Museum in Bremen. However, most of the items in the Emma Budge art collection auctioned at the end of 1937 in Berlin have yet to be traced.