Operation Market Garden started on September 17 1944. It was supposed to end the war in the Netherlands.But the operation failed, as a result the war was prolonged for several months,compounded with one of the severest winters on record it resulted in a famine for the northern provinces.
But there was more,as a form of reprisal the Germans started stealing everything valuable they could find. although Market Garden failed the Germans knew the war was coming to an end and they would be on the losing side.
Dr J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem, stored 6 works of art in a bank vault for safekeeping during the Second World War.
One of the pieces was a painting called The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt The paintings were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis plundered the town.Although the instructions were given not to loot the banks a German officer called Temmler paid no attention to those instructions.
Even Himmler had warned about Temmler, he said he would bring disrespect to the Nazi party, killing millions was okay, but stealing art was disrespectful.
The painting then made a bit of a mysterious journey. In 1971 was acquired by the property Harold Samuel, it had painting reappeared on the Swiss art market ,a few decades after the war, where Harold Samuel bought it
Harold Samuel bequeathed the painting to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House.
The Commission for Looted Art in Europe uncovered the history of the painting and discovered the rightful owners. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the daughter of Dr van Gelder,she is now aged 97.
It was returned to her in November 2017.
The painting went on auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018, and was sold for estimated value 1.6 Million Pounds Sterling.
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