You are here

Bob Jones University and Stolen Nazi Art

I still get letters. This one needed some homework.

On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 11:41 AM, T.E. <[email protected]> wrote:

Urban legend I would like to know the answer to: 

How did Bob Jones University get the works of Rubens and van Dyck and a ton of other works from the Baroque period when they were barely able to stay economically viable as a school for so many years?

One rumor I have heard is that the art was actually stolen by Nazis during World War II, and that therefore the art was offered dirt cheap to anyone who had connections in the art world, and Bob Jones, Jr., was one of those people.

T.E., atheist from Asheville

Thanks for writing, T.

As for the financial stability of the school over 50 years ago? I can't vouch for that. I bet even the IRS doesn't go back that far--though it would not be the first time Bob Jones University has gotten special attention from the IRS. 

Now, stolen Nazi artwork? That's a goldmine of art history, if you're into that sort of thing. Casual web research of other far more noteworthy museums indicate many hundreds works of art have questionable ownership history during WWII. The amount of art traded, sold, auctioned, used as currency, and otherwise exchanging hands during WWII is non-trivial. Ref.: Nazi Looted Art - The Holocaust Records Preservation Project, Part 1, by Anne Rothfeld. at www.archives.gov.

It appears that even Vienna's Jewish Museum didn't begin screening their collection until 2007. (Granted, the technology to do so wasn't very accurate or simple until recently--thank you, Interwebs!)

I suspect that John Nolan, a curator of the Bob Jones Museum and Gallery, may have the answer.

http://www.linkedin.com/in/greenvillehistorytours gets you there apparently. I didn't bother.

If you just want to take a stab at a Christian fundamentalist by saying, "see, Bob Jones has connections to the Nazis!" and watch them squirm... well, history is most definitely on your side.

Let's move from history to my opinion. Sadly, many "BoJo" alumni hold Bob Jones Jr. in some sort of high reverential sainthood, and will attempt to refute the "Nazi Art Accusation" (such as it is) with "he would NEVER have ANYTHING to do with NAZIS, how could you be SO wrong!" etc, etc. 

Little do they know that saying "an art collector during the time of WWII may have obtained STOLEN NAZI ART" would be like saying a current computer geek has "bought dirt-cheap electronics from those terrible Communist Chinese..."

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find out if "Made in China" somehow spells "666" and rid my home of pretty much everything which runs on electricity!

Troy Thompson, FundaBaptist with tongue firmly planted in cheek near Atlanta, Georgia