Las Vegas man wins battle to reclaim father’s poster collection

Peter Sachs’ father, Hans, went to his grave wondering whether the Nazis had destroyed the renowned poster collection he’d devoted his life to building.

Imagine, then, how Peter felt when – 67 years after his father’s collection was seized – he discovered that 4,344 posters had not only survived the Nazis, but the Soviets and the East Germans.

Sachs waged a seven-year legal battle in German courts to reclaim his father’s legacy from a Berlin museum.

And even after he won his case, German authorities attempted to stop the shipment of the pre-World War II collection to the United States.

The collection arrived in New York – the same day as Hurricane Sandy. The posters rode out the storm in a warehouse.

This weekend, however, the legendary Hans Sachs Posters Collection finally returns to the public eye – at the first of three New York City auctions.

"Unfortunately, I do not have the ability to keep or store over 4,000 posters," acknowledges Peter Sachs, 75, a retired US Airways pilot who’s lived in northwest Las Vegas for almost two years.

Sachs is keeping some of his father’s posters – including some by artist Lucian Bernard, a friend of his father’s.

Sachs also anticipates "donating several hundred posters to worthy institutions," he notes.

"My father always wanted the posters to be seen by the public and the posters have been locked away from public view since 1938," Sachs says. "The museum that had them rarely displayed them and I am hoping that many of the posters will end up in museums or with collectors who have a greater ability to display them than I do."

More than 1,200 posters were featured in this weekend’s auction, which concludes today. Two additional auctions will take place later this year, according to Arlan Ettinger , president of the New York auction house Guernsey’s, who’s serving as principal auctioneer this weekend.

All told, between 3,700 and 3,800 posters will be auctioned, Ettinger says, representing the work of more than a thousand artists, from such poster specialists as Alphonse Mucha, Jules Cheret and James Montgomery Flagg (creator of the Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster) to renowned painters including Gustav Klimt .

Some posters have an estimated worth of $40,000 to $50,000, Ettinger says, but most "are probably worth $1,500 to $2,000." Overall, the collection’s value is estimated at about $10 million.

A German Jewish dentist whose patients included members of Albert Einstein’s family, Hans Sachs "began collecting posters as a young man and it became his life’s passion," his son remembers.

In 1896, a classmate showed him some posters he had "helped himself to … in the waiting rooms of railway stations," Hans Sachs wrote in a 1953 memoir included in the auction catalog, titled "The World’s Largest Poster Collection 1896-1938: How it came about and … disappeared from the Face of the Earth."

His friend’s example inspired Hans Sachs to start his own collection, which grew to 12,000 posters and 18,000 smaller graphics.

In 1910, Sachs created a poster collecting society and a year later founded an "internationally popular" magazine devoted to poster collecting, Ettinger says. He also "invented a sophisticated method of storing the posters."

Sachs’ collection includes posters on everything from entertainment to travel, along with advertisements for such products as bicycles, automobiles, candy and cigarettes.

Some posters reflect the changing times, from World War I to the politically charged climate of 1930s Germany, when the Nazis came to power.

The extreme political situation hit home for the Sachs family in 1938, when Hans Sachs, arrested for possessing Nazi propaganda posters, was briefly imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp before his wife secured his release, Peter Sachs recalls.

Sachs, his wife and Peter, then a year old, fled Germany shortly after Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") – Nov. 9, 1938, when a wave of Nazi attacks against Germany’s Jews destroyed thousands of synagogues, Jewish-owned businesses and homes, killing more than 90; 30,000 more were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

After leaving Germany, the Sachs family traveled to Britain, then to the United States, where Hans Sachs worked as a bookkeeper in the New York studio of his artist friend Lucian Bernard – until he moved to Boston for graduate training at Harvard University. He then returned to New York to establish a dental practice.

Following World War II, Hans Sachs "made inquiries about the collection and was advised by the East German authorities that the collection had been destroyed," according to Peter Sachs.

But that wasn’t quite the case.

After World War II, Soviet and then East German officials took control of the collection, which was housed in an East Berlin museum; for "60 or 70 years," the posters were "sort of underground," literally and figuratively.

Despite the claim that the posters had been destroyed, "some of the posters were sold clandestinely to raise money," identified as "posters from the famous Hans Sachs collection," the auctioneer explains. "Everyone thought, ‘How is this possible? Everyone knows the collection was destroyed.’ "

In 1966, Hans Sachs himself wrote to a German poster expert, curator of the East Berlin museum where the posters surfaced, asking whether some portion of the collection could be exhibited in the West.

But "Cold War politics prevailed and Dr. Sachs passed away in 1974, never again laying eyes on his beloved collection," according to the auction catalog.

In 2005, Peter Sachs began researching the posters’ whereabouts on the Internet – and found them at the Berlin museum, which "proudly advertised the fact that they had the ‘Hans Sachs Poster Collection,’ " Sachs explains.

Because "this collection meant the world to my father" – and because "he almost lost his life over this collection" – Sachs "felt that I owed it to him to try and reclaim what had been stolen from him."

Although "many countries have committed to returning Nazi-era looted art," he adds, "in practice – as I have learned the hard way – it is often an uphill battle."

Peter Sachs’ "uphill battle" began with a 2007 hearing before an advisory commission set up by the German government "to hear cases such as mine," he notes.

But the return-and-restitution panel recommended that the Berlin museum should keep the posters, "based on the absurd claim that my father would have wanted the museum to keep the collection," Sachs says.

Believing "this rationale was obscene in light of everything that happened and everything I knew about my father," Sachs "decided to pursue the case in the courts in Germany."

Finally, Germany’s High Court for Justice "ruled that my father had never lost legal title to the collection," Sachs explains, "and that to allow the museum to keep the posters would be to continue to perpetrate an injustice carried out by the Nazi regime."

Even that ruling, however, didn’t end the dispute.

In the early 1960s, still believing his posters had been destroyed, Hans Sachs accepted a $50,000 payment from the West German government as compensation for his lost collection.

That figure was "a woefully small amount, even back then," Ettinger says, "but it was better than nothing."

Museum officials considered the payment "tantamount to (Hans Sachs) selling the collection," Ettinger says, but "if he had not been arrested and the collection hadn’t been stolen from him," the museum would never have obtained it, he contends. "Essentially, they lied to him."

Peter Sachs planned to "repay the compensation" his father received in the early ’60s if the posters were returned to him.

Instead, "for reasons I don’t understand," Sachs says, "the German finance ministry decided to circumvent this process and demand that I (re)pay the money immediately."

Even as Hans Sachs’ posters were being crated for at-long-last shipment to the United States, German customs officials arrived at the Berlin museum, threatening "to seize the collection if the compensation amount was not repaid immediately," Peter Sachs says. "My lawyers tell me that the current director of the museum stepped forward and the museum repaid the amount demanded by the German finance ministry so that the posters would not be seized again!"

Little wonder, then, that Peter Sachs admits to "mixed emotions" now that the posters are being auctioned – and once again being seen, as his father always dreamed.

"This was a long battle and there were some low moments along the way," he reflects. "I’m hopeful that the world will now get a chance to see and enjoy my father’s life’s work. But I’m also sort of sad at the way it all had to play out."

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

Entertainment
You Can Design With 3D Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum
You Can Design With 3d Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Champagne vending machine at Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas
One of only a few in the country, the Moët & Chandon machine at the Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas is stocked with Imperial Rose for Valentine’s Day. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas Valentine’s Day desserts
Mio Ogasawara of Sweets Raku and Rebecca Bills of Gen3 Hospitality in Las Vegas create elaborate Valentine’s Day desserts. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
One Night For One Drop
Cirque du Soleil cast and crew donate their time and talent to this year's "One Night For One Drop" performance at the "O" Theatre in the Bellagio. The event takes place March 8, 2019, and benefits the One Drop organization. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year parade takes place on Fremont Street. (Bill Hughes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Manzo restaurant a key part of Eataly
Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Eataly, at Park MGM in Las Vegas, talks about new restaurant.
Designer Makes Festival-style Crowns
Designer at MAGIC trade show Makes Festival-style Crowns (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excalibur Raises tent that will house "Fuerza Bruta" show
Workers at Excalibur raised a tent, which will be the home of "Fuerza Bruta," a temporary show that will run from March 7 to September 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roc Boots Make For Glittery Festival Wear
With 3-inch-tall chunky heels, cleated platforms, and sparkly glitter, you’ll want to wear these to dance the night away. Sally Cull, product and development for Roc Boots Australia, assures you that you can. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get A Custom-painted Jacket At Las Vegas Fashion Event
On the first of the two-night Commotion event, clothing brands connected with consumers, offering shopping, giveaways and customization opportunities. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian Celebrates The "Year Of The Pig"
The Venetian hosted dancers to celebrate the Chinese New Year and "Year of the Pig." The dancers performed a traditional eye-dotting ceremony and lion dance. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pepe the truffle-hunting dog
Jose Andres knows that quality black truffles can also be found in his native Spain. He’ll be sharing some with the world for a week, starting Monday. From Feb. 11-17, his Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo will be showcasing four special dishes made with Spanish truffles discovered by the truffle-hunting dogs of his friend Nacho Ramírez Monfort. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Abou-Ganim mixes drink at Libertine Social
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, helped change the cocktail culture in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masaharu Morimoto talks ramen in Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto talks about bringing a ramen restaurant to Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto considering full-time Las Vegas ramen spot
Morimoto talks about a full-time ramen spot in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new home at Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign is working it's way to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has been moved to its permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new Las Vegas home
The famous and newly restored Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has moved to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas band Otherwise release song and video in tribute to slain cousin
Adrian and Ryan Patrick, brothers in the band Otherwise with drummer Brian Medeiros, talk about the release of a tribute song to their deceased cousin Ivan. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Life
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like