Norton Simon Museum

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Norton Simon Museum


The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a thirty-year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907-1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century and a stellar collection of South and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years.

In California's Norton Simon Museum hang a pair of rare masterpieces. The long, thin vertical panels depict the biblical moment of the fall of man--a nude Adam clutches an apple, while a sinuous Eve reaches up to grasp a branch of the Tree of Knowledge. The paintings, by German master Lucas Cranach the Elder, have a past that span from the Reformation to the Russian Revolution, through to the Nazi takeover of Holland. Today, they are at the heart of a debate raging in California over how long claims can be made for the restitution of Nazi looted art.

Venue Details:

Location: The Norton Simon Museum is located at 411 West Colorado Blvd. at Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena, California, at the intersection of the Foothill (210) and Ventura (134) freeways. For general Museum information, please call (626) 449-6840 or visit

Hours: The Museum is open every day except Tuesday, from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. on Friday.

Admission: General admission is $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for seniors. Members, students with I.D., and patrons age 18 and under are admitted free of charge. Admission is free for everyone on the first Friday of every month from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. All public programs, unless stated otherwise, are free. The Museum is wheelchair accessible.

Parking: Parking is free and no reservations are necessary.


The story of the paintings raises two important issues pertaining to Nazi looted art: the critical challenge of establishing provenance for artwork, and whether a statute of limitations should exist for Holocaust-era claims.

Over the past week, the LA Times has run several articles on the paintings and the debate. The most recent, published on August 22nd, explains the mysterious past of the paintings' most clearly. The Cranachs belonged to the collection of an eminent Dutch art dealer named Jacques Goudstikker. In 1940, Goudstikker, a Jew, fled Amsterdam as the Nazis invaded Holland, forced to leave his collection behind. Hermann Goering, second in command to Hitler, "purchased" the Cranachs and most of Goustikker's collection. After the war, the Cranachs were recovered by the Allies and returned to the Dutch government, with the hope that they could then be retituted to their rightful private owner, as according to Allied policy. In fact, in 1966, the Cranachs were resituted--but not to the Goudstikker family. Instead, the paintings were claimed by a Russian-American man named Stroganoff Scherbatoff.

Goudstikker had purchased the paintings in 1931 at an auction billed as coming from the "Stroganoff Collection Leningrad." The auction was actually held by the Russian state, to raise funds for its impoverished government. The Russian state had apparently siezed the artwork in the sale from the wealthy ...
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