David Goldmann came from extremely modest circumstances to settle in Vienna in the early 1910s, from where he worked his way up to become director of Ujpester Tuchfabriks AG in Budapest, Wollwarenverkaufs AG in Günzelsdorf and Stoffdruckfabrik in Guntramsdorf. Together with his wife, the singer Lilly Darwasch (née Juliana Nigl, divorced Stärk, 1886–1978) and daughter, he moved in 1928 from Kolingasse 11 to a twenty-room apartment on Freiheitsplatz (now Rooseveltplatz) in Vienna's 9th district. It also housed Goldmann's valuable art collection, which he had acquired during his Vienna years, both as a passion and an investment. It included paintings, miniatures, Altwiener porcelain, tapestries and furniture. During the Austrofascist regime, Goldmann, who came from a Moravian Jewish family and had Czechoslovakian nationality, suffered at the hands of the National Socialists. Two of his six siblings, Filipp (called Gustl) and Therese, ran Café City in Vienna, in which the cabaret Brettl am Alsergrund City, later ABC, opened in 1934. Celebrities such as Fritz Grünbaum and Karl Farkas appeared there, and plays by the likes of Jura Soyfer were performed. That same year, the café suffered a bomb attack by the illegal National Socialist Anton Geckel, whom David and Gustl Goldmann managed to capture and hand over to the police. In connection with this incident and because of his wealth, which the Nazi propaganda styled as "war profiteering" after the First World War, David Goldmann and his family fled to Prague on 11 March 1938, from there to London and finally, in 1940 to New York. Goldmann's assets were expropriated by the Gestapo and in a decree of 22 December 1938, Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police Heinrich Himmler commissioned the Dorotheum to evaluate and list the items because "while in the land of Austria the Jew David Goldmann had conducted activities inimical the Volk and the state." The Dorotheum auctioned all of the interior furnishings and less important art objects directly in Goldmann's private apartment. The auction was to have taken place in April 1939 but was postponed until the end of August. Items included a portrait of Goldmann's daughter by John Quincy Adams completed when she was six years old that has still not been traced today. While securities and jewellery were stored in the Vienna Gestapo depot, twenty-one items were transferred to the seized villa of the Vienna art collector Georg Duschinsky at Cottagegasse 39, which was now the headquarters of the Inspector of the Security Police. After being valued by the Zentralstelle für Denkmalschutz (Central Monument Protection Authority) at 400,000 schillings [!], the valuable artworks from the Goldmann collection were barred from export and handed over to the Zentraldepot für beschlagnahmte Sammlungen (Central Office for Seized Collections). Around twenty objects were earmarked for the Linzer Kunstmuseum (Linz Art Museum) and just under sixty requested by the Staatliches Kunstgewerbemuseum in Wien (State Arts and Crafts Museum in Vienna), the Wiener Städtische Sammlungen (Vienna Municipal Collections), the Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck, and the Alte and Neue Galerie and the Applied Arts Collection at the Joanneum in Graz. Because of the war, however, the Goldmann collection remained with the Institut für Denkmalpflege (Institute for Monument Conservation) and survived this period in storage at various sites such as the Salzbergwerk (salt mine) in Altaussee, Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster Abbey), the Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum (Upper Austria Provincial Museum) in Linz, the Ferdinandeum und the Joanneum. The majority, however, remained in Vienna.
While two of the objects lost in storage and the furniture from Goldmann's villa in Bad Ischl, which was also seized and requisitioned by the NSDAP, and the objects auctioned by the Dorotheum have disappeared today, the artworks stored by the Federal Monuments Authority (BDA) were returned after the war to David Goldmann, who continued his collecting activities in the USA. Five works, which the museum directors of the Albertina and Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts) wished to acquire, were barred from export: a self-portrait by Rudolf von Alt, two items of Altwiener porcelain and two Bohemian glass chalices, which they obtained in exchange for other items. In November 2012 the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of the objects on condition that the legal successors repaid the purchase price pursuant to Section 1.2 of the Art Restitution Act. They decided not to do so and the exchange did not therefore take place.