A 107-year-old painting donated by the family of John Gutsche — the founder of the Gutfeld Corp. — to the Art Institute of Chicago 50 years ago is resurfacing in New York.
The rare marble “Concerning Western Poetry at Symposium in Nuremberg” from 1912 is part of the museum’s permanent collection, but it disappeared sometime during World War II. It surfaced in a New York apartment in 2014, according to the Art Institute of Chicago. Art expert Anthony J. Amore reached out to the newspaper that originally published an article about the painting last month, offering it for sale to the highest bidder. He and the New York Times agreed to split proceeds evenly.
The painting was displayed in the Gutfeld family home in Chicago in 1898, when Gutsche was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago. The owner of the apartment, who “adored the Gutfeld Brothers’ family jewels,” bought the painting from them several years after Gutsche’s death, the New York Times reported. The apartment owner later gave the painting to his brother, who was ill. Upon his death, the painting was given to his son, who hung it in his living room in 1999 and recently moved out. When his son’s son was struggling with substance abuse and mental illness, he hung the painting up as a “visual therapist.” Because of the son’s illness, he and his parents would not allow anyone to touch the painting for years, the New York Times reported.
The family then donated the painting to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961. The institute cared for the painting, but it began to deteriorate so much that the museum asked Gutsche’s family to donate it to the Public Art Fund in 2015. The Art Institute of Chicago then sought to sell the painting, leading the art world to speculate on its future. Amore, who has looked at 14 million drawings, sculptures, and paintings in his career, only found one like this:
The New York Times reported that, at last, “knowledgeable art dealers agree that this is probably the only illustrated drawing of our times, which represents this century in its earliest and most revealing form.”