Missing for 80 years, Holocaust victim's artwork is finally returning to Paris

Works by the early 20th-century Jewish artist Ary Arcadie Lochakov are being sent from San Francisco back to Paris, where they'll be housed at the Museum of Jewish Art and History. There are few clues as to how the artworks mysteriously appeared in the US, eight decades after Lochakov's death in Nazi-occupied Paris.

A Port of San Francisco employee, Jermaine Joseph, came across the artworks during his maintenance rounds along the city's waterfront in May 2022. The 48 drawings, prints and paintings were arranged on a bench, some fixed with stones to prevent them from blowing away.

Together with colleagues, he gathered the art and took it back to headquarters. They wanted to know where it had come from but had no leads. Local police said they had no reports of stolen or missing art, and there was no surveillance footage of the park.

They decided to look more closely at details that most of the artworks shared: dates between 1920 and 1941, and the signature “Lochakov”.

A lost artist

Ary Arcadie Lochakov – sometimes written Lochakow – was born in 1892 to an artistic Jewish family in what is now Moldova, then part of the Russian Empire. He served as an officer in World War I before moving to Paris to pursue art in 1920.

He exhibited at some of Paris's most prestigious art shows, working part-time in a photography studio to get by.

As World War II broke out and Nazi forces occupied Paris, Lochakov went into hiding. He died from malnutrition in October 1941.

Since then, his career has been lost to the historical record – with a few exceptions.

“We don’t know what happened to Lochakov’s studio after his death.”

Unknown provenance

(with newswires)

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
France passes law to help return art looted by Nazis to Jewish owners
French association wants US museums to return Rouen Cathedral windows
Paris Olympic tapestry weaves together heritage of art and sport