Hugo Helbing (1863-1938) was one of the leading art dealers and auctioneers in Europe until c. 1933. He also owned a significant art collection. Apart from his main business in Munich, Helbing maintained a branch in Frankfurt am Main and an office in Berlin where he worked closely with the Paul Cassirer gallery. His auctions were considered social events and he was highly decorated for his donations to the Bavarian State Collections. Beginning in 1933 he was systematically squeezed out of business due to his Jewish descent.
On the night of the pogrom, Helbing was attacked in his apartment and so badly maltreated that he succumbed to his injuries on 30 November 1938. Two days later, the forced liquidation of his art business began, and the collection was seized from his heirs. In a project funded by the German Lost Art Foundation and conducted in cooperation with Prof. Meike Hopp (Institute for Art History and Historical Urban Studies at the Technical University of Berlin), the collection is currently being reconstructed as far as possible and the whereabouts of the artworks clarified.
Dr. Johannes Nathan, a descendant of one of Hugo Helbing’s sisters, is an art historian and art dealer in Potsdam and Zurich, TIAMSA Co-Chair and chairman of the Max Liebermann Society Berlin e.V.
Lea Rosh has won many awards as author and publicist. She was a driving force behind the erection of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the center of Berlin.
This final of the German Lost Art Foundation’s three-part series of discussions with descendants of Jewish art collectors took place on 1 September with Lea Rosh and Johannes Nathan.
To watch the recording, click here.