In the field of Nazi art plunderers, Bruno Lohse was a literal giant. At six-feet-four-inches tall, the former SS physical instructor and semi-professional handball player cut an intimidating figure in wartime Paris. Jonathan Petropoulos observes that as specially appointed “art adviser” to infamous Nazi leader Hermann Göring, Lohse was permitted to wear civilian clothes, drive a private car wherever he pleased, and buy whatever he wished.
The self-proclaimed “king of Paris” was no idiot, either. He possessed a Ph.D. in art history (he was known as Dr. Lohse) and impressed Göring with his knowledge of the Dutch Old Masters (as opposed to “degenerate” modern art, which was verboten). Lohse helped to supervise the theft and re-distribution of more than 30,000 artworks, largely from French Jews, with many of the most prized paintings ending up at Göring’s country estate, Carinhall, northeast of Berlin. In 1945, Göring boasted to his American captors that he had amassed “the finest private collection in Europe.”