Andy Reichsman
Seungeun Lee
Andy Reichsman

Vermont filmmaker will share story of reclaiming art stolen by Nazis

BRATTLEBORO-Filmmaker Andy Reichsman of Marlboro will visit the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m. to share his story of reclaiming family artwork stolen by the Nazi-aligned Yugoslavian government during World War II.

Nearly 80 years after the war ended, Reichsman became the first person to recover artwork that was looted during the Holocaust in Croatia, which was part of Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century.

Three Croatian museums returned paintings, lithographs, and small copper and bronze pieces - about a dozen objects altogether - that once belonged to Dane Reichsmann, Andy Reichsman's paternal grandfather. Dane owned a department store in the city of Zagreb before he and his wife, Frieda, were forced from their home and killed at Auschwitz.

For half a century, Dane's daughter - Reichsman's aunt - fought in court to compel Croatia's National Museum of Modern Art, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Zagreb Museum of Arts and Crafts to return the collection, which included paintings by André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck and lithographs by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pierre Bonnard.

Reichsman took up the cause after his aunt died more than 20 years ago. "What drove her was the injustice of it-these were things her father admired, and she wanted them back," Reichsman said in a news release. "I was utterly skeptical. I assumed I would never, ever, see any of this."

But Reichsman and his Croatian lawyer stayed on the case, and in December 2020, he learned that he and his late aunt had won. It wasn't until more than two years later, after the court worked out the inheritance details, he says, that "it dawned on me that I was actually going to be able to go get the art." He did so in September 2023, describing the situation to The New York Times as "almost beyond belief."

The paintings are now awaiting auction, and the lithographs will stay in the family, Reichsman says. The Zagreb Museum of Arts and Crafts still holds 19 pieces that Reichsman and his lawyer in Croatia continue to pursue.

Admission is $10 (free for BMAC members). Tickets may be purchased in advance at or by calling 802-257-0124, ext. 101. Tickets may also be purchased at the door, subject to availability. For accessibility requests, email [email protected] or call 802-257-0124, ext. 101.

This Arts item was submitted to The Commons.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates