E. & A. Silberman Galleries

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E. & A. Silberman Galleries was a commercial art gallery in New York founded by Elkan and Abris Silberman.[1]

Early history[edit]

E. & A. Galleries was founded in 1938 by brothers Elkan Silberman († 1952) and Abris Silberman († 1968) from Austria. These brothers came from a Jewish family that already owned an art dealership in Vienna in 1780. In the 1920s, the Silberman brothers owned the E. & A. Silberman art dealership on the Figtengasse in Vienna.

However, after the Anschluss in 1938, their company was expropriated, after which the stock was partly sold and partly transferred to Hungary.

Fearing persecution, the Silbermans then left for the United States, where they founded a new art dealership in New York under the name E. & A. Silberman Galleries, Inc. They built a reputation as the art dealership "that had helped form museum collections",[2] as well as the collections of G. H. A. Clowes (1877–1958), Dan Fellows Platt (1873–1938), Booth Tarkington (1869–1946), and L. M. Rabinowitz (1887–1957).[3]

Nazi-looted art[edit]

In 2000 the North Carolina Museum of Art discovered that its Cranach, Madonna and Child in a Landscape, had been looted by Nazis from the Jewish collector Philipp von Gomperz. Acquired by the Nazi governor of Vienna, Baldur von Schirach, it came into the possession of E. & A. Silberman Galleries, who sold it to an unsuspecting George and Marianne Khuner of Beverly Hills, California[4]

In 2011, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston restituted a painting that had been looted by the Nazis from the Jewish art collector Walter Westfeld. The MFA purchased the painting from E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, in December, 1941. [5][6]

In 2016 a Cranach at the National Gallery of Art was found to be Nazi looted art. The NGA had acquired it from E. and A. Silberman Galleries.[7]


  1. ^ "Archives Directory for the History of Collecting". research.frick.org. Retrieved 2021-12-24.
  2. ^ "ELKAN SILBERMAN, ART DEALER HERE; Connoisseur Who Had Helped Form Museum Collections Dies--Gallery Partner". The New York Times. 1952-05-16. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  3. ^ "Archives Directory for the History of Collecting". research.frick.org. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  4. ^ "Holocaust_Era_Assets_Conference_Proceedings_2009" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-05-02.
  5. ^ "41.935". Association of Art Museum Directors. Archived from the original on 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2021-04-06. In June 2011, the Museum of Fine Arts reached a financial settlement with the heirs and the estate of Walter Westfeld for Eglon van der Neer's Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior, allowing the painting to remain at the museum. Walter Westfeld (b. 1889 – d. after 1942) operated an art gallery in Wuppertal, Germany, during the Nazi period. A 1935 decree from the Reichs Chamber of Fine Arts forbade him from working as a dealer because he was Jewish, and he was ordered to close the gallery in May of 1936. That very month, an exhibition of works of art owned by Westfeld was held at the Galerie Kleucker in the nearby city of Düsseldorf, including a "Company Scene" by Eglon van der Neer. This was almost certainly the MFA painting. The paper trail ends there, and begins again five years later. The MFA purchased the painting from E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York, in December, 1941. Silberman probably acquired the painting in the spring of that year, but it has not been ascertained from whom. It is not known for certain how the MFA's Portrait of a Man and Woman in an Interior left Westfeld's possession and made its way to the United States. Without further documentation, its exact provenance may never be known. However, it is difficult to imagine a scenario by which he sold the painting voluntarily in Nazi Germany, receiving proceeds over which he had free disposal. In November, 1938, Walter Westfeld was arrested for violating Germany's foreign exchange laws. He spent the remaining years of his life in captivity and on January 23, 1943, was sent to his death at Auschwitz.
  6. ^ "Suspecting It Harbors a Nazi-Looted Painting, MFA Boston Preemptively Pays Settlement". www.lootedart.com. Archived from the original on 2016-08-11. Retrieved 2021-04-06. The portrait of a wealthy Dutch couple in their living room was purchased from New York's E. and A. Silberman Galleries in 1941 for $7,500. At the time, the dealer said merely that the portrait was "brought to this country by a refugee some time ago, and I wish I were able to supply you with more information." In 1943, French dealer Robert Lebel provided a lead, telling the MFA that he had sold the portrait to Westfeld and that soon afterward the Nazis arrested the Jewish dealer and sold off his artworks.
  7. ^ "Revealed: National Gallery's Cranach is war loot". www.lootedart.com. The Art Newspaper. Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2021-04-06.