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The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis

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The passionate, gripping, true story of one man’s single-minded quest to reclaim what the Nazis stole from his family, their beloved art collection, and to restore their legacy. Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history o The passionate, gripping, true story of one man’s single-minded quest to reclaim what the Nazis stole from his family, their beloved art collection, and to restore their legacy. Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history or heritage. But when he passed away, and Simon received his father’s old papers, a story began to emerge. The Gutmanns, as they were known then, rose from a small Bohemian hamlet to become one of Germany’s most powerful banking families. They also amassed a magnificent, world-class art collection that included works by Degas, Renoir, Botticelli, Guardi, and many, many others. But the Nazi regime snatched from them everything they had worked to build: their remarkable art, their immense wealth, their prominent social standing, and their very lives. Simon grew up in London with little knowledge of his father’s efforts to recover their family’s prized possessions. It was only after his father’s death that Simon began to piece together the clues about the Gutmanns’ stolen legacy and the Nazi looting machine. He learned much of the collection had gone to Hitler and Hermann Goering; other works had been smuggled through Switzerland, sold and resold to collectors and dealers, with many works now in famous museums. More still had been recovered by Allied forces only to be stolen again by heartless bureaucrats—European governments quietly absorbed thousands of works of art into their own collections. Through painstaking detective work across two continents, Simon has been able to prove that many works belonged to his family, and successfully secure their return. With the help of his family, Simon initiated the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the United States. They also brought about the first major restitution in The Netherlands since the post-war era. Goodman’s dramatic story, told with great heart, reveals a rich family history almost obliterated by the Nazis. It is not only the account of a twenty-year long detective hunt for family treasure, but an unforgettable tale of redemption and restoration.


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The passionate, gripping, true story of one man’s single-minded quest to reclaim what the Nazis stole from his family, their beloved art collection, and to restore their legacy. Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history o The passionate, gripping, true story of one man’s single-minded quest to reclaim what the Nazis stole from his family, their beloved art collection, and to restore their legacy. Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history or heritage. But when he passed away, and Simon received his father’s old papers, a story began to emerge. The Gutmanns, as they were known then, rose from a small Bohemian hamlet to become one of Germany’s most powerful banking families. They also amassed a magnificent, world-class art collection that included works by Degas, Renoir, Botticelli, Guardi, and many, many others. But the Nazi regime snatched from them everything they had worked to build: their remarkable art, their immense wealth, their prominent social standing, and their very lives. Simon grew up in London with little knowledge of his father’s efforts to recover their family’s prized possessions. It was only after his father’s death that Simon began to piece together the clues about the Gutmanns’ stolen legacy and the Nazi looting machine. He learned much of the collection had gone to Hitler and Hermann Goering; other works had been smuggled through Switzerland, sold and resold to collectors and dealers, with many works now in famous museums. More still had been recovered by Allied forces only to be stolen again by heartless bureaucrats—European governments quietly absorbed thousands of works of art into their own collections. Through painstaking detective work across two continents, Simon has been able to prove that many works belonged to his family, and successfully secure their return. With the help of his family, Simon initiated the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the United States. They also brought about the first major restitution in The Netherlands since the post-war era. Goodman’s dramatic story, told with great heart, reveals a rich family history almost obliterated by the Nazis. It is not only the account of a twenty-year long detective hunt for family treasure, but an unforgettable tale of redemption and restoration.

30 review for The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marla

    Each time I learn a different component of World War II, a little bit of my heart is chipped away. I’m always horrified at what the Nazis did to the Jewish community. My brain just can’t comprehend the decimation of 90% of European Jews. I just don’t understand how people can have so much hate to do the things they did to neighbors and friends. With the current election happening and the hate spewing from he who shall not be named, it makes me think of all the lives that were lost during World W Each time I learn a different component of World War II, a little bit of my heart is chipped away. I’m always horrified at what the Nazis did to the Jewish community. My brain just can’t comprehend the decimation of 90% of European Jews. I just don’t understand how people can have so much hate to do the things they did to neighbors and friends. With the current election happening and the hate spewing from he who shall not be named, it makes me think of all the lives that were lost during World War II. This time in The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis, Simon Goodman and his brother Nick take up the search to find their family heritage that their father Bernard spent many, many years searching for until his sudden death while swimming. I watched the movie Monuments Men and was shocked at the way the Nazis just went in and took what they wanted from private collections, museums and churches. They were literally breaking off mantels from fireplaces then throwing the items on trains or hiding them in caves dripping of water. In The Orpheus Clock, Simon receives several boxes after his father dies, which holds many detailed documents about all the artwork, silver and other valuable that were in his family’s collection and have been missing for years. His father immediately started looking for the artwork right after the war ended. Simon does a great job telling his grandparent’s story. How they established the bank, built their immense wealth and how they died in a work camp. He also did a great job of detailing what transpired as the Nazis started to gain strength and continuously took from the Jews. It’s so appalling how the Nazis just kept pecking and pecking, slowing stripping the Jews of their livelihood and their humanity. There is still so much artwork that has not been claimed. I wonder if it’s because the families are no longer around, whether they don’t have the documentation to get their belongings back, don’t have the resources to fight or they have given up because too many people fight them along the way. It’s appalling the people who don’t want to give items back like Daniel Searle even though Simon and Nick had solid proof they were the owners of a painting he had in his possession. Sometimes it takes years to get items back. When Simon finds the Orpheus Clock, which is at the Landesmuseum Wurttemberg in Stuttgart, I thought the museum workers were very kind. Several of the items Simon recovered are still being displayed in museums. Some the family sold to help with the search and some are still lost. While reading what Simon and Nick went through to prove an item was part of the Gutmann collection, I wanted to yell “just give them the item!” This is a fascinating book about a part of World War II most people don’t know about. It makes me wonder while I was walking through the Berlin museums in 2012, were any of the artwork I was admiring stolen by the Nazis and still not claimed by the correct owners?

  2. 4 out of 5

    David V.

    Received as an ARC from the publisher. Began 6-8-15. Finished 6-13-15.Compelling story, well-told. The first half of the book describes what the Holocaust did to this wealthy Jewish family in Germany, Including the Nazi thefts of their extensive art collection, as well as collections of friends and extended family. The 2nd half reads like a treasure hunting book as the author and his relatives try to find the hundreds of art items stolen from their family. They search military archives, auction Received as an ARC from the publisher. Began 6-8-15. Finished 6-13-15.Compelling story, well-told. The first half of the book describes what the Holocaust did to this wealthy Jewish family in Germany, Including the Nazi thefts of their extensive art collection, as well as collections of friends and extended family. The 2nd half reads like a treasure hunting book as the author and his relatives try to find the hundreds of art items stolen from their family. They search military archives, auction houses, galleries, museums, etc., and deal with 50-60 year old laws to establish provenance, as well as uncooperative governments, private collectors, and museum directors. If you've seen the movie The Monuments Men, then this is an excellent companion piece. Although the military men of this unit shut down in the late 40's, the Foundation still exists, and they are still looking for art.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cindy H.

    I’m a sucker for any true Holocaust memoir, story - I feel I owe it to those who perished and those that survived that I read their story and hear their voice. This was actually a fascinating story of a family’s accumulation from nothing to owning an empire and then having it all stolen along with every thing they worked so hard to have. I was also amazed to see how dubious certain countries were in regards to stolen Holocaust art and the lengths they went to hide and keep what was so obviously I’m a sucker for any true Holocaust memoir, story - I feel I owe it to those who perished and those that survived that I read their story and hear their voice. This was actually a fascinating story of a family’s accumulation from nothing to owning an empire and then having it all stolen along with every thing they worked so hard to have. I was also amazed to see how dubious certain countries were in regards to stolen Holocaust art and the lengths they went to hide and keep what was so obviously taken. Great read! Highly recommend

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm. So, I have a thing about history and stolen art, mainly because during this class in college I read a book called The Rape of Europa which was about the rampant art pillaging that went on during World War II. Then I read The Monuments Men, about the group of Allied soldiers who were supposed to find and protect things during WWII, including but not limited to art. And then I read another book about going undercover to recover art stolen More reviews available at my blog, Beauty and the Bookworm. So, I have a thing about history and stolen art, mainly because during this class in college I read a book called The Rape of Europa which was about the rampant art pillaging that went on during World War II. Then I read The Monuments Men, about the group of Allied soldiers who were supposed to find and protect things during WWII, including but not limited to art. And then I read another book about going undercover to recover art stolen from museums. Basically, art is valuable, relatively easy to move, and relatively hard to track, which means it ends up getting used as currency in all kinds of transactions and then surfacing at some point with its provenance not really being on the firmest ground. This is basically what The Orpheus Clock (or the last 120 pages of it) is about. After Simon Goodman's father died, Simon and his brother Nick got all of these boxes containing documents about what their father had covertly been doing for the past half century: running around trying to recover the art and belonging that had been stolen from his family by the Nazis during WWII. After realizing exactly what the scale of it was, Simon (and to some extent Nick, though he features much less prominently in this book) took up his father's search. The Goodman family, then spelled "Gutmann," were Jewish in heritage though not really practice and were living in the Netherlands when the war started. Generations of being banking magnates meant the family, in all its branches, was pretty wealthy, and Simon's grandfather was keeper of the family trust, which was massive. There was a big house and lots of silver and fancy paintings. And then, of course, because the Gutmanns were Jewish, the Nazis took it all and sent Simon's grandparents to a concentration camp, from which they didn't return alive. Simon's father and aunt survived because they were living in England and Italy, respectively. Now, reparations from the Holocaust are a really tricky subject because there's not a firm good way to handle them. Here's the thing. A lot of these belongings have popped up over the years with seemingly good providence, and so someone buys one of the things thinking it's okay. And then, BANG! It turns out it's not okay, that it's actually loot. But the person who has it now still likes the thing, for the thing itself and not the history attached to it, and paid a lot of money for the thing, so obviously they're not so keen to give it up. But the family that originally owned the thing wants it back because it shouldn't have been taken away from them in the first place. Is there a good way to deal with this? No, not really. It's much easier when it's the government that still has the thing, because then at least it's not private individuals tangled up in it. What this book does well is lays out the complexities of how hard it actually is to get back items that were taken during the Holocaust, because many of them have been scattered to the winds and then surfaced all over the place with seemingly clean backgrounds. Did people look too hard at these backgrounds? No, not really. But then, if you look at the backgrounds of a lot of art, they're not really as clean as we'd like, which makes art trading in its entirety a very dirty and complicated business. But I couldn't help but wonder why Goodman was doing this the whole time, and yes, I confess, he came off as a bit greedy, because his family didn't even want most of the stuff and ended up selling it immediately after they got it. I know, I know; it's more complicated than that, because the money is rightfully theirs anyway, and so on and so forth. That's fine; they're entitled to it. But I feel like there could have been a better way to convey that than how Goodman did it. It was the language he used about it, being so smug about items selling for much more than their appraisal values and such, and how he seemingly wasn't willing to work with people who thought they were buying (or receiving, in the cases of donated pieces) "clean" art. It was...I dunno. It just had a dirty feel about the whole process, when really it shouldn't have. Them getting the stuff back from the Dutch government was much "cleaner" feeling to me, because it was really freakin' wrong of the government to keep all that stuff for all that time when they had a pretty good idea of who it had belonged to. It's when people who didn't know and didn't have reason to got involved that it all had a sort of icky feel to it. Also, more than half of this book isn't about getting art treasures back at all. It's a multi-generational history of Goodman's family which wasn't entirely necessary for the book. I think all of that could have been condensed to a chapter or two, at most, and then the rest of the book focused on the retrieval process, because that's what the book purports to be about. I get that Goodman has discovered this incredibly lush and complex family history and wants to include it, but if that's the case the publisher should have looked into titling the book more accurately, because it was pretty misleading reading about bankers for 180+ pages (out of a 320-page book) when I thought I was going to be reading about art recovery. 3 stars out of 5.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nancy A

    If you loved De Waal's book, The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Orpheus Clock is a must.This is the kind of history I enjoy reading most because it provides a personal provenance for great art that is absent from the general history of the genre.A piece of trivia I picked up in a college Art History class revealed that 99% of all the art ever created has been lost to the ravages of history.Wars,invasions,natural disasters and human stupidity have all contributed to this high mortality rate.The Orpheu If you loved De Waal's book, The Hare with Amber Eyes, The Orpheus Clock is a must.This is the kind of history I enjoy reading most because it provides a personal provenance for great art that is absent from the general history of the genre.A piece of trivia I picked up in a college Art History class revealed that 99% of all the art ever created has been lost to the ravages of history.Wars,invasions,natural disasters and human stupidity have all contributed to this high mortality rate.The Orpheus Clock fleshes out a part of this story by detailing how the art collection of one family fell victim to the Nazis during WWII.Goodman,the grandson of the original collector, gives the reader a riveting account of his family history before,during, and after the war including photographs.The original collection comprised work from some of the most important artists of the early Renaissance through the beginning of the 20th Century including sculpture and precious metals.What makes this book so rewarding is that Goodman is able to reclaim some of the collection.What makes this book so engaging is the skill of the writer.At times this narrative reads like a thriller but more importantly,Goodman taps into the wellspring of loss experienced by those who were robbed of everything especially their families.You don't have to be a history fan to love this book but if all the history books were written like this everyone WOULD love it!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Where is the art? That was the question that was asked after the devastation the Nazis caused in this gripping tale. The Goodman family treasures were stolen by the Nazis and the family had a paper trail to prove it belonged to them. You would assume that the surviving heirs would be able to reclaim the family art, but instead there was a concerted attempt by museums and collectors to keep the art rather than return it, even when confronted with proof. The description of original Goodman family Where is the art? That was the question that was asked after the devastation the Nazis caused in this gripping tale. The Goodman family treasures were stolen by the Nazis and the family had a paper trail to prove it belonged to them. You would assume that the surviving heirs would be able to reclaim the family art, but instead there was a concerted attempt by museums and collectors to keep the art rather than return it, even when confronted with proof. The description of original Goodman family that owned the art gave the reader an insight into the privileged lives of the very wealthy German jews. They invested in beautiful art works and were very involved in society. Sadly, they made a fatal mistake not to flee the Nazis when they had a chance and paid the ultimate price. This book was fascinating and makes you much more aware of the provenance of art you see in museums. It would be really amazing if the collection that has been ultimately returned could be exhibited together at a major museum.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Balfour

    Truly a 3.5 to me. A fascinating, true account of a wealthy Jewish banking family from Germany and the decimation of their lives and holdings due to the Nazis. The grandson writes the book in a novel form going back to his great great grandfather's acquisition of their status and art collections which continued through 2 generations. The author takes up his father's work to try to reclaim the family's story as well as the looted artwork. It's such a distinct perspective to discuss the war throug Truly a 3.5 to me. A fascinating, true account of a wealthy Jewish banking family from Germany and the decimation of their lives and holdings due to the Nazis. The grandson writes the book in a novel form going back to his great great grandfather's acquisition of their status and art collections which continued through 2 generations. The author takes up his father's work to try to reclaim the family's story as well as the looted artwork. It's such a distinct perspective to discuss the war through a wealthy family history and their art work. I've seen the movie about the monuments men and the book refers to them several times as being integral to finding pieces of the family art collection. I'm sure that if I were an art historian, the book would have multiplied in its attraction to me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    Read the entire book in one sitting... stayed up WAY too late on a weeknight. I couldn't put down this riveting, triumphant story about recovering the Gutmann Collections. Learning more about the personal stories of WWII is always tinged with such sadness, anger, and bewilderment. It's such an important story to be told. Read the entire book in one sitting... stayed up WAY too late on a weeknight. I couldn't put down this riveting, triumphant story about recovering the Gutmann Collections. Learning more about the personal stories of WWII is always tinged with such sadness, anger, and bewilderment. It's such an important story to be told.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    I loved this! It was so fascinating, really well written and put together and I haven't been able to stop thinking or talking about it since I put it down. I loved this! It was so fascinating, really well written and put together and I haven't been able to stop thinking or talking about it since I put it down.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carmen212

    Book is in three parts. First part describes the Gutman family--their bank, the Dresdner Bank, was one of the three top banks in Germany. They were extravagantly rich, like the super-rich of today. The patriarchs were consumed with art collection: old masters, chinese porcelain, tapestries. And had converted away from Judaism. Their children married barons. Their dinner parties included heads of state. Then came 1933. Some of the Gutmans got to England in the 30s. Some went to Holland. There was Book is in three parts. First part describes the Gutman family--their bank, the Dresdner Bank, was one of the three top banks in Germany. They were extravagantly rich, like the super-rich of today. The patriarchs were consumed with art collection: old masters, chinese porcelain, tapestries. And had converted away from Judaism. Their children married barons. Their dinner parties included heads of state. Then came 1933. Some of the Gutmans got to England in the 30s. Some went to Holland. There was a close familial connection with Italy. The next part of the books is about restrictions, how the art thieves and Germany took everything away. Because Nazi Germany was obsessed with piece of paper and signatures, even tho the Gutmans were selling their treasures for pennies on the dollar, they had to sign receipts. This part of the book leads to Auschwitz. It is harrowing. The third part is about the intracacies of the family getting their art back. Quite detailed about different countries - cooperation and obstruction. They did get the Orpheus clock back.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dreamybee

    When I read this book at the beginning of 2016 the sentence that struck me at the time and that has stayed with me ever since was this: “Like many German Jews, Warburg assumed that Hitler and the Nazis could be controlled, that their vicious and increasingly popular anti-Semitism was a passing thing.” (97) Hitler was a little crazy, and he liked to say things to rile people up, but he was controllable. He didn’t have any real power. The people who really ran things would be able to keep him in c When I read this book at the beginning of 2016 the sentence that struck me at the time and that has stayed with me ever since was this: “Like many German Jews, Warburg assumed that Hitler and the Nazis could be controlled, that their vicious and increasingly popular anti-Semitism was a passing thing.” (97) Hitler was a little crazy, and he liked to say things to rile people up, but he was controllable. He didn’t have any real power. The people who really ran things would be able to keep him in check. What was he really going to do, anyway? At the time I was reading this, this idea of control was a refrain that we were hearing about Donald Trump, who had beaten out about half of the Republican candidates and was still in the running for President. Many people doubted that the Republican Party would let him become the nominee because of the increasingly unhinged, inflammatory things he kept saying. Others were sure the party would reign him in if he did, indeed, somehow manage to get the nomination, and especially if he became President. None of that happened, and this week, Trump’s own Chief of Staff, John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general has reportedly thrown up his hands and “largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment — at least this chapter of American history would come to a close.” http://theweek.com/speedreads/779884/... (I didn’t want this to be a political review, and I certainly don’t want anyone to NOT read this book because they disagree with me about Trump—the author almost certainly didn’t write it with a Trump presidency in mind, and there is plenty of interesting story here to be appreciated no matter your political leanings—and, for the record, I am not saying that Trump is the next Hitler—but, for me, personally, it is impossible not to see some frightening parallels. I couldn’t read this book without thinking about the unfolding presidential race, and I honestly don’t know if there has been a week that has gone by since Trump’s nomination that hasn’t reminded me of this book. So, it’s impossible for me not to make this political, but please don’t hold that against the book.) One of the things this book does a great job of is showing how slowly and incrementally Hitler was able to bring about the gradual disenfranchisement and eventual slaughter of millions of people and how citizens were able to convince themselves that what was happening wasn’t that big a deal or that while some new laws and policies might seem a little harsh to the few who were affected, at the end of the day, the country would be better off because of them. It shows why people thought they would be immune and how, in the end, they weren’t: “Herbert’s son Luca later remembered a conversation between his mother and one of their guests during one of those grand dinner parties during the early 1930s. Daisy asked, ‘Who really is this Herr Hitler?’ The guest assured her, ‘Madame, that is nothing for you, someone who lives in luxury and has such a high position, to be worried about.’ German Jews tended to dismiss the rising Nazi Party as just another gang of street toughs and hooligans. From both the right and the left, many fringe groups infested the fractured German political landscape. Common also was the German Jews’ desire to sweep under the carpet the anti-Semitic tendencies of their acquaintances who might, at one moment, spout the most vicious, Nazi-style drivel about the Jewish “pollution” of German blood and culture—but in the next breath calmly reassure their Jewish friends nothing would change.” (95) This reminds me of the people who voted for tougher immigration and were then shocked and saddened when their husband or neighbor got deported because they thought Trump was only going to go after the “bad” immigrants. This “I didn’t mean YOU” attitude makes it extremely easy to support hate and vitriol towards an entire group while allowing the supporter an easy out—if you would gladly make an exception for your good friend who does not fit this stereotype that you hold in your head, then you are a reasonable person. Surely others would do the same, and so, in the end, the bad (insert subjugated group of people here) will all get what they’ve got coming to them, the good ones will be fine, no harm, no foul. Except that’s not how it works. That’s never how it works. “As difficult as it may be to believe now, some prominent German Jews, while decrying the Nazi party's crude anti-Semitism, even expressed support for the Nazi platform of a strong, politically stable, and internationally respected Germany. For example, the banker Siegmund Warburg[...] declared in 1930, "The Nazis are doubtless in part dreadfully primitive in human and political terms. On the other hand, one finds among a large part of them valuable, typically German strengths [that] show strong feeling for social and national duties." Like many German Jews, Warburg assumed that Hitler and the Nazis could be controlled, that their vicious and increasingly popular anti-Semitism was a passing thing. In hindsight, that seems preposterously and fatally naive.” (96-7) “Of half a million Jews living in Germany when Hitler and the Nazis took power, some three hundred thousand managed to get out before the war began and the door slammed irremovably shut. Of the two hundred thousand Jews who would not leave Germany or could not find another country that would accept them, 90 percent would perish.” (102) I held off giving this a star rating because I thought it was good, but some of the paper trail aspects of it got a little tedious for my tastes. Also, the art details certainly would have more meaning and appeal to certain readers than to others; but I’ve thought about this book often since I read it, almost daily recently, and it just keeps seeming more and more relevant. While it might not be every reader’s taste, I now think of it as required reading, so five stars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Simon Goodman has forensically pieced together what happened to his grandparents and their art collection after they were forced to sign it away to Hitler and Goering’s art poachers … The Orpheus Clock is not only a meticulously researched history of the Gutmann family, but a compelling detective story. Daily Mail The Orpheus Clock, Simon Goodman’s fascinating account of [his family's] quest for restitution, is at once a family history, a memoir, a mini-social history of Germany pre-1914, a Ho Simon Goodman has forensically pieced together what happened to his grandparents and their art collection after they were forced to sign it away to Hitler and Goering’s art poachers … The Orpheus Clock is not only a meticulously researched history of the Gutmann family, but a compelling detective story. Daily Mail The Orpheus Clock, Simon Goodman’s fascinating account of [his family's] quest for restitution, is at once a family history, a memoir, a mini-social history of Germany pre-1914, a Holocaust story, and a revealing look at the inner workings of the art world, of the museums and auction houses that control billions of dollars worth of art, often with no idea how much of it might have been stolen … Gripping and horrifying. Christian Science Monitor An extraordinary tale of the rise and fall of a German Jewish banking family … Anyone who has seen the film Woman in Gold, about Maria Altmann’s similar struggle to find looted family art, will have a good idea of where this book is heading from chapter one. Still, this story of how a stubborn man took on the cultural bureaucrats and their culture of amnesia has its own twists and deserves to be told. Marcus Tanner, The Independent Goodman’s book focuses on the terrible consequences of the 20th century’s racial and political beliefs on both human beings and their possessions … Ultimately, however, it is the story of human triumph over obstinate bureaucracy and the illicit greed for beautiful objects. David Herkt, Dominion Post Weekend Part world history, part real-life detective novel, [The Orpheus Clock] is a sad reminder of greed and cruelty, as well as a fascinating insight into the murky world of international art dealing. Queensland Time [D]etails [Goodman’s] exhaustive detective work, the rigid standards of proof demanded of the victims and the determination of many well-known institutions, auction houses and collectors to hang onto their stolen treasures. Not the most comfortable reading, and the guilty will resent being identified, but let justice prevail. Listener Goodman's dramatic story, told with great heart, reveals a rich family history almost obliterated by the Nazis. It is not only the account of a 20-year detective hunt for family treasure, but a remarkable tale of redemption and restoration. Australian Jewish News [A] fitting testament to an extraordinary legacy. Launceston Examiner Art lovers will revel in Goodman’s finds and research. Other readers will simply be fascinated by his incredible personal story. Good Reading Magazine Part detective story, part family history, wholly engaging … one you are likely to read in one sitting, such is the passion with which the story is told. John Graham, Toowomba Chronicle This is a magnificent book, both poignant, and chilling. Ultimately it stands as a testimony to how family stories can grip across generations, and how fierce the impulse to right wrongs. It is very moving indeed. Edmund de Waal, Author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marc Stevens

    The Orpheus Clock is a story that hits very close to my heart. It involves the descendant of a wealthy German-Jewish family (super-wealthy, actually) who lost it all in the Holocaust. Simon Goodman grew up in London knowing his heritage, while his father sadly (and without much success) pursued leads to reclaim a vast family collection of important artwork stolen by the Nazis. Simon's great-grandfather had been the founder of Frankfurt's Dresdner Bank in the late 19th century, and had accumulate The Orpheus Clock is a story that hits very close to my heart. It involves the descendant of a wealthy German-Jewish family (super-wealthy, actually) who lost it all in the Holocaust. Simon Goodman grew up in London knowing his heritage, while his father sadly (and without much success) pursued leads to reclaim a vast family collection of important artwork stolen by the Nazis. Simon's great-grandfather had been the founder of Frankfurt's Dresdner Bank in the late 19th century, and had accumulated a vast fortune. Much of that wealth had been used by Simon's great-grandfather, and his grandfather, to amass one of the great private art collections of the day. But the Nazis (specifically Hitler and Goering themselves) were jealous of the Gutmann family collection, and were determined to get their hands on every last piece. When Eugen Gutmann (the great-grandfather) died in 1925, his son Fritz took over guardianship of the family collection, and it ended up costing he and his wife Louise their lives in concentration camps. Fortunately, their two children were out of Germany before the war, and survived the Holocaust. But post-war, the family was left with nothing. Simon's father, Bernard, spent his 49 remaining years in trying to trace and reclaim the lost pieces of art. But, with European governments and the art community (including the two great international auction houses) throwing obstacles in front of Jewish survivors at every turn, restitution seemed nearly impossible. The German, Dutch and French governments (which allowed the Nazis to steal the Gutmann's family's assets, and then to murder Fritz and Louise) actually charged Bernard fees to reclaim his family's rightful property. It was only after Bernard's 1994 death that Simon inherited details of the family's vast art collections. The advent of the internet helped Simon to realize how it might be possible to trace the current ownership and location of over 50 pieces, valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Suffice to say that the intransigence of the governments, museums, art community, and even some current owners had changed dramatically since the 1950s, and Simon was able to recover, or at least receive partial settlement for, many pieces of the collection. Circumstances (not the least of which is the number of heirs to the collection) made it impossible to keep most of the recovered pieces, but Simon is to be congratulated for his determination in getting it done. He was a dog with a bone, and he refused to ever let go. This is a riches to rags to riches story that one rarely hears about relative to the Holocaust. Bravo Simon! My own German-Jewish family (although nowhere near as wealthy as the Gutmanns) lost everything to the Nazis. But no formal list of our assets survived the war, and so nothing is recoverable. Apparently someone in Germany had the nerve to call my spinster aunt in the UK in the 50s or 60s, and offer to SELL her back our family's Bösendorfer concert grand piano, which had been stolen by the Nazis. Needless to say, as a poor civil servant with no inheritance, she refused.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Waddell

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A moving and fascinating exploration of one family's battle to recover art looted by the nazis. I found this book to be horrifying, emotional but ultimately inspiring and optimistic. The background provided of the Gutman family makes the book feel very personal. I'm not ashamed to admit I shed a tear when reading of the fate of Fritz and Louise at the hands of the nazis. I found it fascinating how the nazis and their associates tried to hide their blatant theft of precious artworks from Jewish f A moving and fascinating exploration of one family's battle to recover art looted by the nazis. I found this book to be horrifying, emotional but ultimately inspiring and optimistic. The background provided of the Gutman family makes the book feel very personal. I'm not ashamed to admit I shed a tear when reading of the fate of Fritz and Louise at the hands of the nazis. I found it fascinating how the nazis and their associates tried to hide their blatant theft of precious artworks from Jewish families behind a veil of legal respectability. The battles of the Gutman family to have their property returned also exposes the murky side of the art world though it was heartening how attitudes seemed to change as the family pursued more and more of their looted art. Simon's dedication to the cause is truly inspiring. Completely thought provoking and very readable, this highly personal story inspires many emotions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shauna Tevels

    I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway in return for an honest review. This is an excellent book about how one family is attempting to recover or at least have acknowledged all of the belongings that were stolen by Hitler, Goering and other Nazi art thieves. This story is not fiction in the slightest. The author does, in my opinion, give the reader all of the details of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father's lives and how all three men created this amazing legacy that the author is I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway in return for an honest review. This is an excellent book about how one family is attempting to recover or at least have acknowledged all of the belongings that were stolen by Hitler, Goering and other Nazi art thieves. This story is not fiction in the slightest. The author does, in my opinion, give the reader all of the details of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father's lives and how all three men created this amazing legacy that the author is still to this day trying to find. It is sad to read about how his father and aunt were treated after the war while they were trying to find out about their family and their missing legacy. For anyone interested in art history, world war II or the Holocaust, this book is highly recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pat King

    This is the third book I’ve read covering this ground. The Hare with the Amber Eyes and The Woman in Gold are both well written, personal accounts of not only three families but so many other families that endured this period of history, including the good times and memories as well as the horrors that resulted in devastation for so many Europeans from the Golden Age up into the early 1930s.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Silver

    Fascinating, engagingly told story of the Gutmann/Goodman family's passionate quest across two generations to restitute a massive and invaluable art and artifacts collection, looted during the Holocaust. Fascinating, engagingly told story of the Gutmann/Goodman family's passionate quest across two generations to restitute a massive and invaluable art and artifacts collection, looted during the Holocaust.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Page

    We all know how the Nazis ravaged private collections, but what does a family do to get their treasures back? Follow this story to find out...it's truly an adventure. We all know how the Nazis ravaged private collections, but what does a family do to get their treasures back? Follow this story to find out...it's truly an adventure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel Stein

    An amazing story Another amazing story of a Jewish att collection looted by the Nazis. But, in this case, an eventual happy ending, with many pieces ultimately returned to the heirs. However, also a reminder of how many parties after the war preferred to disregard original ownership in order to hold on to what they had, however dubiously acquired.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Esther Bos

    An interesting story of a wealthy German family, the Gutmans, with immense collections of art which was confiscated before and during World War II. This book introduced me to the world of international art collecting, with all the documentation and record-keeping it requires. It is also a gripping history of this family, who enjoyed their wealth and privilege through the 19th Century, despite constant social undercurrents of prejudice against Jews. This wealth and privilege was finally brought d An interesting story of a wealthy German family, the Gutmans, with immense collections of art which was confiscated before and during World War II. This book introduced me to the world of international art collecting, with all the documentation and record-keeping it requires. It is also a gripping history of this family, who enjoyed their wealth and privilege through the 19th Century, despite constant social undercurrents of prejudice against Jews. This wealth and privilege was finally brought during the Hitler era, as their possessions, status, businesses, and finally their lives were taken away. The author tells the story of learning about the lost family cache after his father's death in 1994, and seeking it's return.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Barrett

    I enjoyed the historical information given in this story, more than the retribution of the artwork. Still, a beautiful way to honor those who lost their lives to the Nazis.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wally

    An amazing story of a family's search for the disposition and reclamation of its heritage stolen by the Nazis. Simon Goodman does an excellent job of 'report ING what he, his brother and his father went through to discover art work stolen from them during WWII. At the same time, he gives us a very good picture of how the Nazis behaved toward Jews, in particular those with resources. Furthermore, we learn how institutions and governments behaved when they found themselves in possession of stolen An amazing story of a family's search for the disposition and reclamation of its heritage stolen by the Nazis. Simon Goodman does an excellent job of 'report ING what he, his brother and his father went through to discover art work stolen from them during WWII. At the same time, he gives us a very good picture of how the Nazis behaved toward Jews, in particular those with resources. Furthermore, we learn how institutions and governments behaved when they found themselves in possession of stolen works of art.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    I realise I'm a bit late reading and reviewing Simon Goodman's book, "The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis". There's not much I can add to the other favorable reviews but I'll give it a try! Seventy or so years ago, Simon's grandparents - both converted Jews to Lutheranism - had their privately-held art treasures stolen "legally" from their house in the Netherlands by the Nazis. Fritz and Louise Gutmann - their son changed the name to Goodman - had been I realise I'm a bit late reading and reviewing Simon Goodman's book, "The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis". There's not much I can add to the other favorable reviews but I'll give it a try! Seventy or so years ago, Simon's grandparents - both converted Jews to Lutheranism - had their privately-held art treasures stolen "legally" from their house in the Netherlands by the Nazis. Fritz and Louise Gutmann - their son changed the name to Goodman - had been collecting art for years and building on the collection inherited from Fritz's father, Eugen. Eugen Gutmann had founded a bank in Dresden that later merged with others to form the Dresdner Bank. The huge bank was "Aryanised" during the Nazi era, but by then Eugen had died. His son Fritz was the family keeper and continued his father's art collecting. Their collection was fairly varied - everything from Rembrandt to a Franz Stuck portrait of a woman and a snake in a VERY compromising position! Fritz and Louise had fled from Germany to Holland with their paintings, sculptures, and silver collection. That silver collection - the Eugen Gutmann Silversammlung - and their refusal to give it up after having lost so much else to the Nazis - was the cause of Fritz and Louise's deaths in Nazi concentration camps. Their son - Bernard - had been able to emigrate to England before the war began. He had been born in England during his parents' stay during the First World war. His sister - Lili - had found relative safety in Italy through her marriages to Italian men. After the war, Bernard began the agonising search for his parents' stolen art pieces. But he was thwarted in his search through governmental stonewalling and for the next 50 years - until his death in the mid-1990's - he found very few pieces. After his death, he "bequeathed" the search to his two sons, Simon and Nick. They took up where he left off and the book is the story of their search for the pieces of art that had been scattered through the world, both during and after the war. Pieces were bought and sold and in most cases, the buyers didn't look too hard at the provenance of the pieces. Eventually, through great use of the internet data bases, Simon and Nick were able to track down many pieces of the Gutmann collection. The book also details their use of the law in getting these pieces returned to their rightful owners. (Simon and Nick Goodman were not the only people searching for their family's treasures. He mentions the Maria Altmann/Randol Schoenberg fight for the Gustav Klimpt paintings of Maria's aunt, as detailed in the movie, "Woman in Gold") Simon Goodman is a very good writer and his account of both his family's history and the fight to regain their lost legacy is wonderful reading. Included in the book are some family pictures, but also pictures of some of the pieces he and his brother fought to save. He credits others in helping them in their search and battles. Very good book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Genna

    "I know, rationally, that even under the Nazis there surely were sunny days; I just can't see it. Whenever I think of my grandparents during the Nazi nightmare, I envision them only in the monochromatic shades of World War II newsreels, under clouds of SS black and skies of Wehrmacht gray." The systematic looting and destruction of Jewish art during WWII has long enthralled me in both fascination and horror. While I've read a variety of literature on this particularly ugly period of world hist "I know, rationally, that even under the Nazis there surely were sunny days; I just can't see it. Whenever I think of my grandparents during the Nazi nightmare, I envision them only in the monochromatic shades of World War II newsreels, under clouds of SS black and skies of Wehrmacht gray." The systematic looting and destruction of Jewish art during WWII has long enthralled me in both fascination and horror. While I've read a variety of literature on this particularly ugly period of world history, this is my first experience with a personalized account. The Orpheus Clock is something of a fifty year long detective story, begun widely in secret by Goodman's father, and which spans generations and continents. I enjoyed a rather scathing inside look at the art markets of 20th century Europe and now, cameos by the indomitable Rose Valland, and an enlightening (not in a good way) exposé on the rather dastardly actions of the Dutch government following WWII. "That a sturdy bronze, fifteenth-century mortar and pestle, with German coat of arms, had survived was not so surprising, but close by were two ancient cushions still in remarkable condition. Embroidered on both was their year of creation--1689. They seemed to epitomize to what lengths the Nazis had gone to preserve everything of value--except human life." The Orpheus Clock is a story, ultimately, of restitution. While Goodman is not a natural writer, emphasized by periodic awkward phrasing and repetitive word choice, his family's story is haunting and resounding. An unfortunately all too common example of entire families who not only lost their lives but were stripped of their legacies and cultural heritage as well. Goodman's research is impeccable as he outlines the Gutmann banking dynasty rise to social and political prominence and their subsequent evisceration by the Nazis. The bulk of The Orpheus Clock, and the most compelling aspect, is detailing of the intensive and far-reaching investigation Goodman and his brother launched in order to reclaim their family legacy. They tirelessly track many of the thousands of missing pieces from the Gutmann collection through history in order to fight for their return. This account does not mince words as the Goodman family files lawsuits, struggles through endless bureaucratic red tape, conducts investigations, and fights resistant collectors and museums for their rightful inheritance. The actions of the Goodman family paved the way for auction house reform and the development of Holocaust-era restitution policies, while encouraging countless other families to pursue their own sense of justice. A passionate, monumentally important text.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Adam Hummel

    I heard about this book when it was first published and added it to my mental "to-read" list, since I've always been interested in WW2/Holocaust history, and the art thefts in Europe at the time. A few weeks ago I was watching a Senate Judiciary Hearing on art restitution in Europe, and among the other distinguished speakers, including Ronald Lauder and Hellen Mirren, was Simon Goodman. As soon as I heard his name, it reminded me of the name of his book, and while watching the hearing, and heari I heard about this book when it was first published and added it to my mental "to-read" list, since I've always been interested in WW2/Holocaust history, and the art thefts in Europe at the time. A few weeks ago I was watching a Senate Judiciary Hearing on art restitution in Europe, and among the other distinguished speakers, including Ronald Lauder and Hellen Mirren, was Simon Goodman. As soon as I heard his name, it reminded me of the name of his book, and while watching the hearing, and hearing Mr. Goodman speak, which was fascinating (he was an exceptionally compelling speaker and very knowledgeable on the subject), I bought this book online. As soon as it arrived, I devoured it, and I enjoyed every page. He told a fascinating story about his family, originally Jewish but converted at a time in Europe where it was more helpful to be non-Jewish, but ultimately treated as Jews leading up to and during WW2. His family's history is like that of many upper-class Jewish families in Europe, but it was clear that the treasures they accumulated were unlike others, which made them particularly desirable for the Nazis. Goodman spends a good deal of time going through why each treasure was important, both for its intrinsic value, as well as it's value to his family, and made me root him on throughout his book, wanting him to find everything that he set out to find. I was most interested by the reactions that he got from different institutions and private owners, whether rich industrialists or modern museums. It was fascinating seeing how some reacted to their realization that they had inherited Nazi spoils, while others were just in it for the glory, and set up whatever obstacles they could. Having read the book, I now understand clearly why Goodman was called upon to testify in the Senate in support of a new law enabling those owners of Nazi looted art to bring lawsuits in a timely fashion, without being concerned about legal/administrative barriers to bringing the claim. This book is a must read for anyone interested in Nazi looted art, does an exceptional job of telling the story of one exceptional family, and left me wanting to read every other book on the subject. Interesting story, well written, fascinating history. Well worth the read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Earlier this week, I read in The Guardian that the children of Holocaust survivors have genetic evidence that the trauma has been passed on to them. It seems it is not just an old wives’ tale that bad experiences can be passed on to the next generation, there is now research evidence for the theory of epigenetic inheritance: that is, that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children… I thought of this as I was reading The Orpheus Clock, an account of Simon Goodman’s search for fami Earlier this week, I read in The Guardian that the children of Holocaust survivors have genetic evidence that the trauma has been passed on to them. It seems it is not just an old wives’ tale that bad experiences can be passed on to the next generation, there is now research evidence for the theory of epigenetic inheritance: that is, that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children… I thought of this as I was reading The Orpheus Clock, an account of Simon Goodman’s search for family art treasures that had been stolen by the Nazis. He begins the book with his discovery of some old boxes hoarded by his father, which came into his possession after his father’s unexpected death. Bernard Goodman, once Bernard Gütmann, was eighty, but it was not his body that life had broken. Later on, as the author explains that the box contained voluminous correspondence and files, he says that his father’s quest for justice was an obsession, and that the few things that were recovered caused division and dissension amongst the remaining family members. It is unutterably sad that in addition to all the horrors of the Holocaust, the quest for justice and recompense has been so complex and tortuous and that it is still not resolved more than 70 years after the end of the war. To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2015/08/24/th...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Correen

    It took someone with wealth, determination, and skill to crack through the levels of bureaucracy in simultaneously in order to prevail in claiming lost property. The victory was a gift to many who lost property during WWII. That story was terrific. The story of the loss of family members and the suffering of the family was tragic, and the horror of the torture was horrible. The family described in this book had gained great wealth before the war in the banking industry. They had no doubt suffered It took someone with wealth, determination, and skill to crack through the levels of bureaucracy in simultaneously in order to prevail in claiming lost property. The victory was a gift to many who lost property during WWII. That story was terrific. The story of the loss of family members and the suffering of the family was tragic, and the horror of the torture was horrible. The family described in this book had gained great wealth before the war in the banking industry. They had no doubt suffered through many years of abuse of Jews. They had also accumulated an inordinate amount of wealth and unbelievable amount of treasure through banking business. I applauded Mr. Goodman for his diligence, envy his focus and determination, and am very pleased with the overall effect of his work. I also feel somewhat guilty because I am less thrilled with his success than I would have been by a a person who only had a few treasures and succeeded in bringing them back. My discomfort with their original lifestyle makes the success no less important. I was pleased to see some of the art go back into public viewing areas and hope the provenance of the pieces will be included for viewers to know. The story of the art heist by the Nazis is important as we look to art not only as beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring but also as historical pieces that carry important information beyond their visual presence.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Donia

    This is by far one of the most stunning books that I have read in a very long time. It is legible, cohesive, coherent, interesting and the subject is a new one for me. The Orpheus Clock moves slowly and can get bogged down in family names and relationships as it is extremely detailed in that regard yet it is neither boring nor pretentious. I learned a great deal about the treatment and behavior of one of the most wealthy and extremely powerful Jewish banking families of Europe and how they behav This is by far one of the most stunning books that I have read in a very long time. It is legible, cohesive, coherent, interesting and the subject is a new one for me. The Orpheus Clock moves slowly and can get bogged down in family names and relationships as it is extremely detailed in that regard yet it is neither boring nor pretentious. I learned a great deal about the treatment and behavior of one of the most wealthy and extremely powerful Jewish banking families of Europe and how they behaved and viewed themselves during WW2. This is new territory for me; the destruction of the Jewish elite and the theft of their art collections by the Nazis and the massive effort it took and is still taking to reclaim by heirs what belongs to this particular family. It stunned me to read how the family has had to buy back their stolen treasures. First the Nazi's stole the priceless family treasures and then after the War, the family got tangled up in unsympathetic Post War courts that forced the family to BUY, BUY BACK THEIR STOLEN TREASURES even though they could prove that they were theirs in the first place. Realize that the Nazi's stole their family money too. What irony. This is the frosting on the cake as it were since much of the family met their deaths at the hands of the Nazi's and as such there are extremely poignant passages when we read how the various family members met with their deaths.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    When Simon and his brother received a box of their father's files after his death, some pieces of a family puzzle fell into place, and Simon's career in Los Angeles in the pop music business took quite a turn to history, fine art and family genealogy. The Orpheus Clock was just one of the priceless Renaissance treasures that Simon and his family should have inherited. His great grandfather had founded one of Germany's most influential banks in the 1800s, and he and his son began collecting art. When Simon and his brother received a box of their father's files after his death, some pieces of a family puzzle fell into place, and Simon's career in Los Angeles in the pop music business took quite a turn to history, fine art and family genealogy. The Orpheus Clock was just one of the priceless Renaissance treasures that Simon and his family should have inherited. His great grandfather had founded one of Germany's most influential banks in the 1800s, and he and his son began collecting art. But they also happened to be Jewish, and except for Simon's father who had settled in England and other internationally scattered cousins, there were no survivors of the Holocaust. The art was taken by Nazis. This is Simon's personal story of research, persistence, patience, and frustration to untangle the web of where all these pieces had ended up in the 70+ years since their theft. It makes you want to scream at the bureaucratic and Catch-22 details of red tape that various governments demanded, and the stonewalling by banks, collectors, auction houses and museums. But this was his defiance of the Nazi's attempt to erase his family, his memorial to their lives as shown by their artistic tastes. Along the way, he meets some good people who did the right thing, heals some family divisions, and promotes the concept and work of restitution.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary & Tom

    The Orpheus Clock itself is a gorgeous metalwork table clock of great value. The book of the same name contains a beautiful color photo, even in the trade paperback edition, of this work of art. Mr. Simon, the author, has spent a large part of his life doing what his father was unable to do. Both men were searching for a vast number of items procured by the Nazis, through forced sales and out right theft, from the vast collection of art works and fine household goods owned by Mr Simon's grand fa The Orpheus Clock itself is a gorgeous metalwork table clock of great value. The book of the same name contains a beautiful color photo, even in the trade paperback edition, of this work of art. Mr. Simon, the author, has spent a large part of his life doing what his father was unable to do. Both men were searching for a vast number of items procured by the Nazis, through forced sales and out right theft, from the vast collection of art works and fine household goods owned by Mr Simon's grand father and great grandfather. Mr. Simon's great grandfather was the founder of the Dresdner Bank and accumulated a fortune. His grandfather carried on the banking business before he and his wife lost their lives and possessions to the Nazis. This book describes how Mr. Simon helped by the advent of the digital age and the extensive library at the Getty museum located many of the stolen items. Some were graciously returned after being provided with proof of ownership and others required legal battles. Interesting reading

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