Manhattan Skyscrapers by George Grosz sold for $19,062 at Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art auction on Nov. 10, 2021 in New York City. Grosz was born in Berlin, where he began his artistic career. They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and Grosz did just that in his early career—in addition to his studies, he honed and developed his artistic skills by creating meticulous copies of fellow German artist Eduard von Grützner’s works.
After immigrating to the United States in 1933, he decided to make a fresh start by changing his style and abandoning his social satirist and sometimes dark and controversial subject matter. Instead, he began to focus on nudes and landscape watercolors. Unfortunately, his later works didn’t achieve quite the same critical success as his Berlin works. He returned to his homeland in 1959, where he sadly died shortly thereafter from injuries sustained from falling down a flight of stairs after a night of drinking.
Grosz was no stranger to lawsuits because of his politically tinged works, but the tables turned after his death, when his estate sued the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2003, asking for return of three of Grosz’ paintings. His estate alleged that they were stolen by the Nazis during World War II, but the claim was dismissed on the grounds that the 3-year statute of limitations had expired.
Though in Grosz’ case, his stylistic changes didn’t necessarily work out for the best career wise, change is inevitable. Our Special Report this month, A Changing World, details how estate planners and advisors are adapting to and embracing both the legal and social changes of these unprecedented times.