"Engrossing ... The book reads like a detective story."—The Washington Post
It all started with a list of paintings. There, scribbled by a cousin she hadn't seen for years, were the names of the masters whose works once belonged to her great-grandfather, Jules Strauss: Renoir, Monet, Degas, Tiepolo and more. Pauline Baer de Perignon knew little to nothing about Strauss, or about his vanished, precious art collection. But the list drove her on a frenzied trail of research in the archives of the Louvre and the Dresden museums, through Gestapo records, and to consult with Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano. What happened in 1942? And what became of the collection after Nazis seized her great-grandparents’ elegant Parisian apartment? The quest takes Pauline Baer de Perignon from the Occupation of France to the present day as she breaks the silence around the wrenching experiences her family never fully transmitted, and asks what art itself is capable of conveying over time.
"Pauline Baer de Perignon is a natural storyteller—refreshingly honest, curious and open. Like the best memoirists, she manages to tell multiple stories simultaneously, to delicately layer meanings and narratives. Here is not only a riveting art world mystery, but an utterly personal, heartfelt, and extremely intelligent story of a woman doing everything she can to uncover the truths of her family."
—Menachem Kaiser, author of Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure
"A heartwarming and fascinating story by a superlatively gifted writer and first-rate reporter. ... The Vanished Collection is a remarkable book."
"Riveting ... This page-turner will delight art history and mystery fans alike."
"Engrossing ... The book reads like a detective story. ... [Its] ultimate theme is about restoring memory—that most significant feature that makes humans human."
—The Washington Post
"Undeniably intriguing ... memorable and often moving. A fascinating journey to uncover lost family secrets—and treasure."
"A charmingly told account of a woman’s quest to reconstruct her great-grandfather’s art collection that leads her not only to the restitution of looted works, but also to a profound and touching recognition of her family’s wartime odyssey and her own place in their myriad generations."
—Lynn H. Nicholas, author of The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War
"Beautifully evokes a vanished world that once stood at the crossroads between the heights of civilization and the depths of barbarism before being overwhelmed by the latter. The restitution to Pauline Baer de Perignon's family of one of France's finest 18th-century masterpieces, through a harrowing process dramatically recounted in this book, goes some way to redeem the cause of civilization."
—James Gardner, author of The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World’s Most Famous Museum
"This book—aside from its flowing style, compelling storyline and intriguing twists and turns—adds such an important chapter to the Holocaust narrative and its culture-centered subset."
—The Holocaust Art Restitution Project
"Fascinating—a true treasure hunt through history ... Make[s] for riveting reading. As it sifts through 'a jumble of beautiful things, of gilt and dust,' The Vanished Collection arrives at a sense of delayed justice—but also at invaluable family reconnections."
"A page-turning book that is part detective story, part personal journey ... De Perignon manages to successfully penetrate the often-opaque world of art restitution through pluck and perseverance, while uncovering an unspoken part of her family history."
"This detective story, this memoir, is one for our time. ... There are lots of funny passages. ... Should you read this book? Absolutely."
"Demonstrates how difficult it continues to be to right the wrongs inflicted on Jewish families in World War II, and how the silence of a generation helps to perpetuate those wrongs ... Fascinating ... Compelling, leading to a satisfying, if bittersweet, conclusion."
—Historical Novels Review
"For decades the lost Jules Strauss collection lay shrouded in mystery. First the Nazi expropriation, followed by the family’s own denial. Finally through determination a great-granddaughter is able to piece together previously buried clues. Pauline Baer’s goal is justice, but an unexpected consequence is a poignant connection with lost family and a keener understanding of history."
—Simon Goodman, author of The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis
"'Every family has its paradise lost,' writes Pauline Baer de Perignon. Like the Camondos, the Rothschilds, the Ephrussis and other Jewish families whose art was looted in the war, her heritage is of epic proportions and this account of that past resurfacing today is as moving as it is fascinating. I could not put it down."
—Cécile David-Weill, author of Parents Under the Influence and The Suitors
"As devourable as a thriller ... Incredibly moving."
"De Perignon’s memoir is a robust addition to the growing genre of art restitution stories, the depiction of her own dogged quest to achieve some sort of justice for her family’s loss captured deftly ... provides a satisfying tale of one person’s attempt to right a longstanding injustice and redeem a family’s heritage."
—Jewish Book Council
"Entwines a disquieting family memoir with a true tale of mystery and intrigue ... In The Vanished Collection, de Perignon pierces through the silence of family and bureaucrats, unpeeling layer after layer of amnesia and deception to retrieve not just a painting, but a deeper portrait of her life."
—Rain Taxi Review of Books
"A terrific book."
“Stimulated by a desire to write, Pauline unconsciously understands that what she really wants is to bear witness. As if in a Kubrick film, she opens a door and a river of blood pours out on her. With valued assistance from Modiano, Pauline digs into this shocking story that amazes and breaks the heart … transforming an unfortunately commonplace account of paintings stolen by the Nazis into a breathtaking novel of suspense."