Primavesi, Eugen

Eugen Primavesi


12 May 1888 Brünn / Brno – 29 April 1961 Salzburg

Eugen Karl Franz Primavesi was one of the most active and influential art and antiques dealers in Vienna during the Nazi era. He served as a major in the First World War and later described himself as a professional officer. He dealt in antiques and artworks from 1923 at his residence at Wiedner Hauptstraße 45–47 in Vienna's 4th district. From 1934 he was an expert and assessor at the Vienna commercial court for classical applied art and from 1936 contracted employee of the Dorotheum in Vienna. After he was relieved of this position at the end of 1940, probably because of the conflict of interests with his activity as an antiques dealer, he continued to work as a sworn expert and assessor and buyer for museums, art dealerships and collectors in Austria and other countries. He states that he also acquired art objects at the special Gestapo auctions, evaluated transport goods of expelled Jews to determine the export levy and arranged on commission the submission of items from Nazi persecutees to the Dorotheum.

In 1946 criminal proceedings were instigated against Primavesi at the Vienna Volksgericht on a charge of illegal enrichment according to § 6 of the War Criminals Act, amongst other things in connection with the assessments and purchases of art objects from the Viennese transporter Emil Karpeles-Schenker. Primavesi himself did not Aryanize any businesses or properties but appropriated mobile assets from the Karpeles-Schenker family in close cooperation with Walter Schimana, who Aryanized the Karpeles-Schenker villa in Döbling in Vienna's 19th district. The case against Primavesi was dropped in 1949, but reopened several times in subsequent years and only finally closed in 1961, the year of his death. In 1962 his widow, Margarethe Primavesi, was ordered by the Salzburg Landesgericht (provincial court) to restitute the painting Jagdszene (Hunting Scene) by Jan Fyt to the Karpeles-Schenker family. In 1951 the Ministry of Internal Affairs had approved Primavesi's application to have his name deleted from the list of former Nazis because it was not clear from the Gau file whether Primavesi had been a member of the NSDAP or SA. He himself stated that he had claimed to be former member after annexation only to protect his wife, who was Jewish. However, there is no official record of this wife (whose maiden name is supposed to have been Kohn). Eugen Primavesi married Margarethe Gaugelhofer in Wolfsburg (Carinthia) in 1946, and the registry office has no record of an earlier marriage. Primavesi lived after the Nazi era initially in Wolfsberg, from 1947 at Schloss Tausendlust in Hitzendorf near Graz (which belonged to his wife Margarethe) and finally in Salzburg, where he once again worked from 1950 for the Dorotheum – as an art expert for the local branch. After her husband's death, Margarethe Primavesi, continued to run the antiques business as his widow from 1963 until 1977 at Frankenberggasse 9 in Vienna's 4th district.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Gabriele Anderl, "Am Wiener Platz". Schlaglichter auf die Rolle des Wiener Kunsthandels während der NS-Zeit, in: Gabriele Anderl/Alexandra Caruso (Hg.), NS-Kunstraub in Österreich und die Folgen, Innsbruck-Wien-Bozen 2005, 171–211.


BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 39, PM Karpeles-Schenker.

GISA Servicestelle, Magistratsabteilung 63 der Stadt Wien, Generalkatasterblatt zu Eugen Primavesi und Karteikarte zu Margarete (= Margarethe) Primavesi.

OeStA/AdR, ZNsZ, Gauakt 33.701, Eugen Primavesi.

WStLA, LG für Strafsachen, A11, Vr 6525/58, Eugen Primavesi.
WStLA, Volksgericht, A1, Vg Vr 3159/45, Vg Vr 805/55, Eugen Primavesi.