Rudolf Mosse

Freie Universität Berlin and Heirs of Rudolf Mosse Join Forces to Locate Nazi-Looted Artworks

The Freie Universität Berlin and the family of German Jewish publisher, philanthropist, and art collector Rudolf Mosse are working together to locate artworks taken from the Mosse family by the Nazis. A contract between Mosse’s heirs and the university has been signed to keep the collaboration going until February 2019. The venture, called the Mosse Art Research Initiative, is a rare partnership between a public institution and a private party. Mosse’s collection contained thousands of art objects, pictures, sculptures, books, and antiquities. The goal of the search is to locate as much of the collection as possible and unveil the precise circumstances of the the confiscation. The initiative will be led by the university’s Dr. Klaus Krüger and coordinated by Dr. Meike Hoffmann, a world-renowned expert in provenance research at the Art History Institute.

Mosse was a financially successful and influential figure in Berlin at the beginning of the Weimar Republic and had additional business interests in bookselling and advertising. The Mosses also published a leftist paper called the Berliner Tageblatt (Berliner Daily Sheet). Mosse died in 1920 and his wife, Emilie, passed away just a few years later. Their adopted daughter, Felicia, inherited the family’s fortune. Once the Nazis came to power, however, they liquidated the family’s assets and drove Felicia, along with her husband and three children, into exile. Everything left by the Mosses was taken over by Karl Haberstock, who became an art dealer under the Nazi regime. On May 29 and 30, 1934, parts of Rudolf Mosse’s collection that were previously exhibited were sold by auction at Mosse’s home in Berlin. All of Felicia’s belongings were sold a week later.