Art Dealer’s Heirs Sue Stepmother’s Estate Over Missing Impressionist Works

Sam Salz was known for selling works out of his UES apartment.

Claude Monet, La Seine a Argenteuil (1875). Photo: Sotheby's.

Marc and Andre Salz, sons of late art dealer and collector Sam Salz, who was renowned for selling works by the likes of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Claude Monet out of his Upper East Side apartment, have accused their late stepmother Janet Traeger-Salz of making off with millions of dollars worth of Impressionist paintings they claim were wrongfully taken from their father’s estate and sold at auction.

In court papers, the brothers claim that, following their father’s death in 1981, Traeger-Salz sold Monet’s La Seine a Argenteuil, Degas’ Horses in a Meadow, and Renoir’s Still Life with Figs at various auctions between the late 1980s and 2000s. The Monet, which initially sold in 1988, resurfaced at Sotheby’s London in 2014, where it sold for $14.5 million. DNAinfo reports that the seller was the late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, while the buyer is unknown. Meanwhile, the Degas, which sold in 1995, now belongs to the National Gallery of Art. The Renoir was allegedly sold in 2009 and is likely in a private collection.

Edgar Degas, Horses in a Meadow (1871). Photo: NGA.

Edgar Degas, Horses in a Meadow (1871).
Photo: NGA.

The Salz brothers claim that, via their father’s estate, the masterworks are rightfully theirs, and they hope to recover them through legal action against the estate of Traeger-Salz, who died last year at age 98. Traeger-Salz, along with lawyer Robert S. Friedman, had functioned as the co-executors of Salz’s estate since his death in 1981.

Marc Salz filed papers on December 23 requesting permission from a judge to replace Friedman as executor, as Friedman has allegedly not taken steps to recover the artworks. The papers include a letter from Friedman requesting to resign as executor due to old age and living abroad.

Salz notes that he “plans to take any and all actions to investigate the possibility of pursuing claims to recover any works of art which were in fact stolen from [his father].”

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