No UK buyer came forward to match the asking price of £270,000 for the Meissen Bottger commedia dell’arte stoneware figure and it is now free to be taken out of the UK.
Lawyers for the estate of Emma Budge tried to contact the current owner through the UK government in the hope of referring the matter to the Spoliation Advisory Panel.
The panel resolves claims from people, or their heirs, who lost property during the Nazi era but can only investigate claims if the object in question is in a public collection or if the private owner agrees to enter the process. Berlin lawyer Lothar Fremy, acting for the Budge estate, said the owner refused to engage. However, he hopes to pursue the matter.
Budge and her husband Henry made their fortune in the US before returning to Germany in the early 1900s. Their collection of 2000 artefacts was sold at the Graupe Auction House in Berlin following her death in 1937 but, as the proceeds were paid into an account blocked by the Nazis, her heirs never received the money.
Over the past 12 years the estate has won restitution claims on a number of pieces.
In May, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston settled a long- running di spute over seven commedia dell’arte porcelain figures by the Höchst, Fürstenberg and Fula factories. In 2014 a 16th century silver salt cellar in the possession of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford was returned to the estate and later sold at Sotheby’s in 2015.