Valerie Heissfeld, née Kulka, was the fifth of six children of Leopold Kulka (1838–1909) and Charlotte Kulka, née Scheuer (died 1892). In 1905 she married the regimental surgeon Jakob Heissfeld (1871–1915) and moved with him first to Stanislau, Galicia (now Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine), where her two children, Karl (1906–1938) and Lotte Heissfeld, were born. After living for several years in a military barracks in Klosterneuburg, the family moved in 1913 to Paracelsusgasse 6 in Vienna's 3rd district. Jakob Heissfeld, who had served in the First World War, died just two years later as a result of wounds inflicted in Kolomea, Galicia (now Kolomyya, Ukraine). Together with her daughter Lotte, Valerie Heissfeld moved into a villa in 1926 at Meytensgasse 27 in the 13th district, which Lotte Heissfeld had inherited from her uncle Alfred Kulka. After the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, Valerie Heissfeld had to declare her assets to the Nazi authorities on account of her Jewish origins. Otto Reich, director of the library of the Akademie der bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts), valued her collection of fifty-four paintings at around 8,000 Reichsmarks. The Zentralstelle für Denkmalschutz (Central Monument Protection Authority) refused to allow the owner, who intended to escape abroad, to export two watercolours by Rudolf von Alt (Schloss Greinburg and Chancel of the Church in Schöngrabern) and an oil painting by Friedrich von Amerling. Her daughter Lotte Heissfeld was also refused permission to export two Alt watercolours (Nordbahnhof and Persenbeug). As a result, Valerie Heissfeld was obliged to sell these works and those of her daughter to the Vienna bookseller and art dealership Artaria & Co. Chancel of the Church in Schöngrabern appeared in 1941 on the Berlin art market, but no further trace has been found of the other pictures. This watercolour was subsequently acquired through Ernst Schulte Strathaus, head of the department of art and culture in the staff of Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess, for the Bormann collection. In 1945 the Allies transported the picture from Altaussee, where it had been stored, to the Central Collecting Point in Munich. In 1952 they gave it to the Bundesdenkmalamt (Federal Monuments Authority) in Vienna for safekeeping. In 1996 it was restituted under the Zweites Kunst- und Kulturgutbereinigungsgesetz (Second Art and Cultural Property Settlement Act), apparently by mistake, to the heirs of Josef and Cäcilie Lilienthal and acquired by the Albertina in 1997 on the art market (Galerie Jünger, Baden bei Wien). In 2011 the Art Restitution Advisory Board did not recommend its restitution to the legal successors of Valerie Heissfeld. In spite of a border stamp from the customs authorities, it is not possible today to determine the whereabouts of the fifty-one objects authorized for export from the Heissfeld collection. Valerie Heissfeld managed to escape to Brno with her sister Adele Kulka in February 1939, but was deported on 29 March 1942 to Theresienstadt, where she perished on 13 April, two days after her sister.
Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Valerie Heissfeld, 15.4.2011, URL: www.provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Heissfeld-Valerie-2011-04-15.pdf (3.12.2020).
Albertina Wien (Hg.), Rudolf von Alt, 1812–1905. Gedächtnisausstellung im 50. Todesjahr, Wien 1955.
Otto Fritscher, Kontroversen um den "Mauerbach-Schatz". Die Restitutionsverfahren von 1969 bis 1986, Wien 2012.
Meike Hopp, "Weiß gar nicht, wo sie alle hingerathen sind". Der Münchener Bestand der Werke Rudolf von Alts und die "Sammlung Bormann" – eine Herausforderung für die Provenienzforschung, in: Andreas Strobl (Hg.), Rudolf von Alt ...genial, lebhaft, natürlich und wahr. Der Münchner Bestand und seine Provenienz, Berlin-München 2015, 146–190.
Kunsthandlung S. Kende (Hg.), Gedenkausstellung Rudolf von Alt, 12. März bis 6. April 1930, Wien 1930.
Sophie Lillie, Was einmal war. Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens (= Bibliothek des Raubes 8), Wien 2003.
Anita Stelzl-Gallian, Für immer verloren. Der Sammler Richard Kulka und die Familiensammlung Heißfeld-Kulka, in: Eva Blimlinger/Heinz Schödl (Hg.), Die Praxis des Sammelns. Personen und Institutionen im Fokus der Provenienzforschung (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 5), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2014, 201–220, URL: doi.org/10.7767/boehlau.9783205793564.201.
BDA-Ausfuhr, Zl. 5704/1938, Valerie Heissfeld.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 38413, Valerie Heissfeld.
OeStA/KA, Qualifikationslisten 1019, Jakob Heissfeld.
WStLA, Wiener Historische Meldeunterlagen, Meldeauskunft Familie Heissfeld.