March 23, 2011, - 2:12 pm
The world of glitterati and star-worship is mourning the death of actress Elizabeth Taylor. While she was beautiful for a good part of her life and acted in some classic movies, including her turn as Cleopatra, I will remember her for other things, including eight marriages and seven husbands and her weird relationship with Michael Jackson. I’ll also remember her for her far-left AIDS activism, which told us that those who worry are nuts (even though, just last week, an organ recipient contracted AIDS from a donor). But, most of all, I’ll remember Elizabeth Taylor for her long, drawn-out court battle to keep Holocaust survivors from getting the painting the Nazis essentially stolen from them and which her father bought for her. It’s something I’ve mentioned on this site before, and it’s unforgivable. It is also a valuable episode in illuminating who the real Elizabeth Taylor was as a person.
Elizabeth Taylor Proudly Showed Off Her Nazi Plunder
You would think a woman who preaches to us that we should be humanitarians, especially towards gays with AIDS, would also preach the same toward Jews who fled the Holocaust and their descendants. But you would be wrong. When she learned that the Van Gogh she owned was the property of Jews forced to sell it by the Nazis in order to flee Hitler’s Germany on the eve of Kristallnacht, she refused to give the painting back to its rightful owners. Her fraudulent, quickie “conversion” to Judaism (to marry Eddie Fisher) didn’t influence her one bit. Instead, Taylor litigated in court for years to prevent the painting’s rightful owners from getting their property back, and she was, sadly, successful. First, they endured the Nazis, and then, they endured Elizabeth Taylor. From 2007:
Actress Elizabeth Taylor can keep a Vincent van Gogh painting after a federal appeals court upheld dismissal of a lawsuit by relatives of a Jewish woman who said she was forced to sell it before fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco ruled yesterday that a lower court correctly dismissed claims by descendants of Margarete Mauthner who sued Taylor for return of van Gogh’s “View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy.” The work was painted in 1889, a year before van Gogh committed suicide. Taylor’s father purchased the painting, now worth as much as $20 million, for her in 1963.
Mauthner, an early collector of van Gogh’s work, bought the painting around 1907. Her relatives claimed she sold it under duress before fleeing Germany. They sued Taylor under a 1998 law that directs the United States to work with other governments on returning works of art confiscated from rightful owners during Nazi rule. The appeals court said the act doesn’t create a private right to sue.
“The provision’s focus is on ‘governments’ rather than individuals, urging those governments ‘to facilitate’ enforcement of preexisting property rights,” the court said. “The statute thus does not explicitly confer a benefit on Holocaust victims.”
Elizabeth Taylor made hundreds of millions of dollars from her licensed perfume, jewelry, and other products. You’d think she could buy another Van Gogh and give the one she bought, which didn’t belong to her, to its rightful owners. But that’s simply not who Elizabeth Taylor was. That was all clever smoke and mirrors marketing.
The real Liz Taylor is the woman who sent an army of lawyers to court to prevent the family of Margarete Mauthner from taking possession of their property taken by the Nazis.
While Liz Taylor was once a beauty on the outside, I’ll remember her as always ugly on the inside.
Tags: Elizabeth Taylor, Germany, Holocaust, Kristallnacht, lawyers, litigation, Liz Taylor, Margarete Mauthner, Nazi, Nazi Germany, Nazis, painting, Stolen Art, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, Van Gogh, View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy