The much respected French art tycoon Daniel Wildenstein died at 84 following a surgical operation on October 23rd 2001.
The heir of the Wildenstein dynasty, who had a great taste for French 18th Century works and Impressionist painters, had been ill for several weeks. His sons Alec and Guy will now have the hard task of pursuing his oeuvre.
Known as the undisputed expert for such painters as Fragonard, Manet or Monet, Wildenstein published several catalogues raisonnés, notably those concerning the works of Modgliani, Gauguin, Lebourg, Van Dongen, Vlaminck or Pissarro and Utrillo recently.
The much powerful head of the Wildenstein empire ran several galleries in Paris, New York, London and Tokyo and owned an impressive collection of paintings and works of art.
During the last decade of his life Wildenstein was however forced to battle to defend the memory of his father Georges, who had been notably accused by historian Hector Feliciano of having dealt with the Nazis during the war.
Daniel strongly denied that his father, who sought refuge in the U.S during the Second World War, had been in touch with German authorities in order to protect his business during the occupation of France and swiftly rejected allegations that the latter had bought works of art and paintings stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis. Still, the heirs of Jewish collector Alphonse Kann sued the Wildenstein family in an attempt to recover half a dozen illuminated 15th Century manuscripts worth several million dollars, which had disappeared from Kann's collection during the war.Last month, A. Kann's heirs were granted a decision from a New York court ordering Wildenstein to submit all his gallery's ledgers to U.S justice.