Poster collector Hans Sachs as a young man, surrounded by works from his collection.
Poster collector Hans Sachs as a young man, surrounded by works from his collection. Photo by Guernsey's via Bloomberg
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A collection of pre-World War II posters that were returned to the heir of a Jewish dentist who fled the Nazis is going on sale.

The more than 4,300 posters collected by Hans Sachs and looted by the Nazis will be auctioned at Guernsey's in New York on Jan. 18, though the auction house is seeking to sell the entire collection to one buyer. The posters are worth about $5.8 million, according to Bloomberg.

They reportedly arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York at the height of superstorm Sandy. The posters had been returned last month to Sachs' son Peter of Sarasota, Florida, from the Deutsches Historisches Museum, where they had been stored. The return followed a court order for the posters' restitution that was issued by the Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe, the highest court in Germany for civil affairs, in March, Bloomberg reported.

Hans Sachs was a serious poster collector who began collecting during his school days in the late 19th century. He published a poster magazine called “Das Plakat,” founded a society and gave lectures, said Bloomberg, which added that the collection included works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ludwig Hohlwein, Lucian Bernhard and Jules Cheret. At the time, the collection, totaling 12,500 posters, was the biggest in the world, said the report.

The posters, some of which date back to the 1800s, were taken by the Gestapo in 1938; Sachs was told at the time that Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wanted them for a museum exhibit.

Sachs was arrested on the night of Kristallnact in November 1938 and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. His wife secured his freedom and the family escaped to the United States.

Sachs accepted compensation for the collection from West Germany in 1961. He died in 1974.