Heymann, Leo

Leo Heymann


21 July 1889 Schwersenz / Swarzędz – 29 October 1964 Freiburg im Breisgau

The coin collector Leo Heymann, born in the town of Schwersenz, which with its large Jewish community was until 1918 part of the German district of Posen-Ost and in 1919 became part of Poland under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, moved first to Dusseldorf and then to Vienna. It is not known precisely when the moves took place. In 1924 he became Prokurist (authorized signatory) for the Gerngross department store in Mariahilferstraße and in the same year joined the Numismatische Gesellschaft (Numismatic Society) in Vienna. In 1934 he was elected to the board of administrators of Wiener Ziegelwerke AG. Even though he left the Jewish community in 1927, he was considered a Jew by the Nazis. He was able to escape persecution in March 1938, emigrating via Rotterdam to New York, where he arrived on 9 September 1938 on the SS Nieuw Amsterdam. Because he escaped early enough, he did not have to submit an asset declaration. The details of the expropriation of his assets are unknown. In July 1941 the First Director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, Fritz Dworschak, contacted Otto Kolb from Department II E of the Vienna Gestapo responsible for seizures and confiscation of assets. In the letter Dworschak requested a pre-emptive right to acquire the seized coin collection, which was stored with the Gestapo and was earmarked for auction in the Dorotheum. The owner of the collection was indicated by hand as "Leo Heymann". Thereafter, twenty-six medieval and modern coins from the Heymann collection were acquired by the KHM Coin Collection. The inventory does not indicate a purchase price and it is not therefore clear whether the coins were purchased from the Gestapo or allocated to the museum.

After the war, Heymann made an application in April 1946 to the US Allied Commission for Austria. By this time he was a US citizen and lived in Miami, Florida. He claimed the loss of his apartment at Jacquingasse 13 and the pictures, carpets, library and coins in it, as well as his shares in Wiener Ziegelwerke Aktiengesellschaft in Leopoldsdorf near Vienna. Heymann moved to Locarno, Switzerland, and died in Freiburg im Breisgau on 29 October 1964. It was not until the systematic provenance research in the KHM that it was determined that the twenty-six coins in the Coin Collection came from the Heymann collection. The Vugesta ledgers list a net profit of 1,940 Reichsmark. It has been impossible to determine whether this sum referred only to the coins or to other artworks as well. It is also unclear whether Heymann's coin collection was originally larger than the twenty-six coins acquired by the KHM. At its meeting of 3 December 2002, the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of the coin collection to Heymann's legal successors. The heirs have not yet been identified, and the whereabouts of the remaining assets are not known.

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Publications about the person / institution

Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Leo Heymann, 3.12.2002, URL: www.provenienzforschung.gv.at/beiratsbeschluesse/Heymann_Leo_2002-12-03.pdf (3.12.2020).


KHM-Archiv, XII 4, 21/1941.

NARA, Holocaust-Era Assets, USACA - Property Control Branch, Cases and Reports Pertaining to Property Administered by the Vienna Area Command (VAC), compiled 1945-1950, PC/V/III/52 Leo Heymann, URL: www.fold3.com/image/306558657 (3.12.2020).

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, Abwicklungsstelle der Vermögensverkehrsstelle, Vugesta-Kartei und 9 Bände Vugesta-Geschäftsbücher, Buch 7.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, FLD, Zl. 3237, Leo Heymann, Arthur Wohl.