March 23, 2011, - 2:12 pm

The Real Elizabeth Taylor: Litigated to Keep Nazi-Stolen Painting from Holocaust Survivors

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE: Courageous Elizabeth Taylor Helped Israel, Israeli Terror Victims, Entebbe Hostages – Another View ****

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.

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31 Responses

Surprise! A Hollywood scumbag!

You know, there was Jimmy Stewart and RR—and then there was a vast, featureless, barren moral wasteland.

Occam's Tool on March 23, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Occam’s Tool: I hope your post is a joke. This is the most absurd opinion I’ve read about the Hollywood “enemy” in a long time. It’s people who refuse to go to the movies who have the barren imaginations.

    Seek on March 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm

The only thing I think of when I hear the name Liz Taylor is ‘yet another marriage/husband’. Really!!! Nothing more! Nothing less!

(One thing I noticed is how reluctant you are to accept her as a Jewish person and regarding her conversion as a charade: contrast that w/ Muslims who will consider anybody a Muslim once he recites that stupid sentence called the Shehada, regardless of whether that person considers himself Muslim or not. In other words, you are unwilling to accept a person as Jewish unless s/he actually is one, whereas Muslims are only too eager to proclaim a person as Muslim regardless of whether or not s/he actually is one.)

Infidel Pride on March 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I am sure she’s “sorry”, but it’s too late for her.

Now, she wants to come back and warn her loved ones…

Good riddance!

As goes Israel, so goes the World. on March 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I must note that this was also the same woman who auctioned off some of jewels during either the 1967 or 1973 Israeli-Arab war to raise money for Israel.

That does not take away from what she did to this Holocaust survivor.

Jonathan E. Grant on March 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    No it doesn’t, Jon. A Jew doesn’t do certain things.

    I think she had a blind spot with regard to the painting.

    That doesn’t outweigh her good deeds and love for the Jewish people and Israel.

    Even good people have flaws and no one is perfect.

    I’ll still take Liz Taylor any day over today’s Jewish anti-Semites who long to see every Jew murdered and Israel destroyed.

    She wasn’t a perfect Jew but she identified very much with the Jewish people and Israel and she converted to Judaism out of a love for them.

    May her memory be for a blessing.

    NormanF on March 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Good article DS, I liked Elizabeth Taylor in those old black-white films and techni-color films from the 1940s when she was alot younger. Yes she was one of the best actress of all time, but I believe everyone should know who she was in her daily private life away from the cameras, etc. Don’t look for the media to explain all of these details that Debbie wrote on this thread.

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on March 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Besides . . . I seem to recall her twice ex-husband, Richard Burton, was permanently banned from the BBC in the 1970’s after writing newspaper articles which clearly showed his hatred of Winston Churchill, whom he’d played in previous productions in film, TV and radio; plus, Burton’s being a socialist (as we keep hearing, what else is new about that?).

ConcernedPatriot on March 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This is the only blog of yours I have read. So, forgive me if you are in-fact consistent in your reasoning. There are people in this world however that don’t seem to be able to see beyond race.

By the above reasoning, you should be advocating the return of land seized from Palestinians by the British government and given to the Jews for the country that we currently call Israel and you should advocate that the vast majority of land in the US be returned to the American Indians.

If I pay a high price for a life-saving item, then I have no right to go back and demand my money back once my life has been saved.

Mark Edge on March 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Heh – Thanks for sharing this information on Elizabeth Taylor; I was not aware of it.


It seems that every time a person dies, you dign up something negative about him or her. Any reason why?

Mike on March 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Debbie just revised her views – see her next thread. I am in agreement with her that whatever the court may have decided, just because the ruling may have been legally correct, it doesn’t make it morally right.

    What I mean is that Liz Taylor was a good Jew and she helped Israel and Jewish charities and with all her fame and wealth and the loves of her life she had, we don’t see the good that she did. People know about her movies and her glamor and about the controversy over the Van Gogh but they don’t know about the other part of her life.

    She didn’t have to convert to Judaism and live a Jewish life. She helped Jewish causes and Israel long before she became a Jew and she was banned and still is for that reason in Arab countries today. We’ve seen it takes very little to hate Jews and a lot to love them.

    We won’t see her like again in Hollywood and anywhere and she will be missed.

    NormanF on March 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Agreed. Keeping stolen property makes you a thief. You have no moral right to it even if you did acquire it.

If I learned the property I bought wasn’t mine, I would make every effort to restore it to its rightful owners.

I hope when I leave this world, I am a better person than Elizabeth Taylor.

NormanF on March 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Tell it to the native Americans.

    Pete Bone on March 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm

“it seems that every time a person dies, you dig up something negative about him or her. Any reason why?”

I’m not sure of Debbie’s reasoning for doing so. But I would rather know everything pertinent about a person or a religion, or even the facts concerning a massacre of a Jewish family at the hands of the peaceful Fatah branch of occupied Israel.

I wasn’t aware of Taylor’s complicit willingness to continue the persecutions long after Hitler’s death. Thank you for the information that will never see the light of day during the week of eulogy’s for this woman. That actually explains quite a bit. No wonder her personal life turned out to be an utter catastrophe. Never screw with the Jew’s, G-d always makes people answer for it.

It was also nice to know exclusively from this site that Obama’s selective service certificate was a forgery.

At the end of the day I’d rather know the truth about what’s going on in the world, then blissfully living in a charade of bullshit spoon fed to me by the uneducated willful idiots such as yourself.

wolf2012 on March 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm

@ Mark Edge, you wrote:
“By the above reasoning, you should be advocating the return of land seized from Palestinians by the British government and given to the Jews for the country that we currently call Israel and you should advocate that the vast majority of land in the US be returned to the American Indians.”

Equating the Palestinians to a race is a common mistake that people make. The land of Israel was renamed “Palestine” by the Romans to dissociate it from the Jewish people. There really is no such thing as Palestinian people, other than the group of people who became refugees when their neighbouring Arab states told them to leave prior to an attack on Israel. In fact, Jews who lived in the region prior to 1948 called themselves “Palestinian”.

Also, the British did not take the land away from the Palestinians and give it to the Jews. The Jews have had a consistent presence in the land of Israel for more than 3000 years. The territory at the time the British split it up included what is today Israel, Jordan, Gaza, West Bank and Sinai. The British split up the land and gave Jordan to the Arabs and the rest to the Jews. The Palestinians of today are really Jordanian (but Jordan refuses to accept them into their country). If you look at Jordan, it is much bigger than Israel, plus Israel traded off Sinai with Egypt for peace. Clearly the Arabs came out ahead, and they are not willing to stop until the Jews are wiped into the ocean. This is the mandate of the Palestinian people.

Zsuzsi on March 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I don’t know the nationhood of the people that are currently called Palestinian. I don’t think it is relevant either. In this world, as it is today, nations exercise sovereign ownership of land within their borders. It is therefore not inaccurate to say that Britain took land from the Palestinians, because all of the people who’s land was given to Israel were Palestinians, even if they were Jewish.

    I am not advocating anyone be wiped out of anywhere. What I am saying is that ownership is indicated by control and the poor folks who had to sell their Van Gogh at a reduced price to save their lives got what they bargained for, their lives. This is not a Jewish issue. It is a property rights issue. I think it is futile for Palestinians to demand land from Israel, but I do thin that Israel should let those folks form their own nation and not exercise blockades upon them. It is a tough issue wrought with violence, I know.

    Mark Edge on March 23, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    What “Palestinians”?

    They are a fiction. An artificial concept. A convenient propaganda device.

    BethesdaDog on May 9, 2011 at 6:30 pm

To be perfectly honest, I have never really felt one way or the other about this woman. I remain puzzled as to why her face has seemingly never been off the cover of grocery store tabloids for more than a week at a time over the last 40 years, in spite of the fact that the last theatrical release she made was in 1966.

Hell, Lauren Bacall was just as pretty when she was a teenager, is still going strong at 86, and yet somehow manages to keep her mug off of the covers of all those yellow rags. Perhaps it was because she was only married twice and had the good sense not to repeat that mistake a 3rd time, let alone a 7th.

Irving on March 23, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Where did Mauthner get the painting?

Pete Bone on March 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm

The classy thing to do would have been to return the painting to the family. Her father bought it for her and maybe she was especially attached to it because of him.
In the post Debbie says the painting was sold by the original owner to escape the nazis. That would mean it wasn’t stolen by the nazis. It was sold under duress but it was sold and apparently allowed the owner to escape the nazis.
I don’t think it’s the same as keeping stolen merchandise. Who was suing for the return of the painting? If the original owner sold it and kept the money it was an item that was legally sold, right?

Jennifer on March 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Elizabeth Taylor was beautiful and naive young English girl that Hollywood’s Jews turned into a dysfunctional and diseased old hag.

Jenna on March 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

To be honest, I am a little disappointed in this post/thread. More facts are needed about the exact details of the transaction. Was it stolen, or sold to raise funds to flee?

These are two different things. If money or services were exchanged it is a sale.

If a disaster happens here, or the Chinese invade, and you trade your painting for a ride (from even say a Chinese person w/no relation to the invading army), how can you say the transaction is not valid later?

Or say you sell something to buy a gun to defend yourself when you expect to be attacked, how is that not a very wise trade? You can’t go back a blame the person who helped you get out, or who sold you the gun.

Now if they left it in their home while fleeing, & it was taken by Nazi’s. Yes then, that is stolen.

M-B on March 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Elizabeth, who?

Dianne & Brian on March 24, 2011 at 4:26 am

If it was sold by the owners(under duress or not) then it was not stolen or confiscated. I abhor the Holocaust activities and truly understand the misery it caused and why someone would be under duress to sell, but sold is sold.

CJ on March 24, 2011 at 9:55 am

Here is Taylor’s lawyers characterization of the sale per the Washington Post article cited in part by Debbie above.–

“Lawyers for Taylor, 75, claimed the painting was sold through two Jewish art dealers to a Jewish art collector with no evidence of any Nazi coercion or participation in the transactions. “

George Murphy on March 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I must side with Liz! You state several things that must be exaimed and once you do you realize the painting was sold in order for the family to flee! They sold it!!!!!! Sold it whom and for how much. You don’t say it was taken by the Nazi’s…you said it was SOLD! It was also a gift to her by her father, well I would have to say it became a keepsake! Did the family offer to buy it back or just sue Liz to give it back to them! So, the family gets paid when they sold it and then want it back for free? WTH?

Kaju Chyna on March 25, 2011 at 1:54 am

I think Elizabeth Taylor’s heart was in the right place, just her head was a little off-kilter. I think that is obvious. I think her loyalty to her daddy outweighed rational thought. I think I will give her a pass on this one, considering what she did for Israel. She sort of endangered her life by rousing the anger of Muslims world wide.

Onlinescoop on March 25, 2011 at 2:05 am

Van Gough only sold one painting is his life, it is not the painting in question. Most of his paintings were stolen after his brother die. The family in question more than likely did not come by the painting by the most legal of means.
They have no more claim to it than Elizabeth Taylor.

Pete Bone on March 26, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Pete Bone – you managed to kill many birds with one stone in your comment. Please don’t malign holocaust victims unless you know what you are talking about.

Onlinescoop on March 27, 2011 at 1:20 am

    I’m not trying to be insulting to anyone. I’m just pointing out the fact that the “original” owners mostly likely had no more legal claim to the painting than Elizabeth Taylor.
    How can you claim that you have the right to a painting that was stolen over someone who stole the painting from you?

    Pete Bone on March 27, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Didn’t she convert to marry Mike Todd and married Eddie Fisher after Todd’s death in a plane crash while already a converted Jew?

Harry on March 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

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