A poignant and intriguing legacy – Vision Foundation

A poignant and intriguing legacy

In 2018, Vision Foundation found itself at the centre of a powerful story of lost art, Nazi persecution and post war politics, which turned staff into unlikely art detectives…


The Compassionate Child (The Beggar) by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller in a gilded gold frame. Beside it is a Nazi revenue document, claiming the paintings.

In 1938, Irma and Oscar Löwenstein, prominent members of Vienna’s Jewish community, escaped from Nazi oppression to London with their lives but not their many valuable artworks. Oscar died soon after they arrived and while Irma spent the rest of her life trying to reclaim her treasures, time and post war politics meant she never saw them again. Irma left her estate, including her unfound art collection, to the Greater London Fund for the Blind, now Vision Foundation.

In 2018, Vision Foundation learned that three Waldmüller paintings from Irma’s collection had come to light in museums in Munich, Dortmund and Berlin. As the beneficiaries of Irma’s Will, we had rights of restitution. Following advice from art consultants and legal firms, three of these paintings were sold at auction, raising nearly £500,000.


Olivia Curno headshot“It is very rare for a charity to be the benefactor in a restitution case of this nature. We felt truly humbled. After everything Irma must have gone through in her life, it is truly remarkable that almost 50 years since her death she is still supporting a cause that meant so much to her during her life. Our pledge to Irma is that these paintings will be used for good through our work with blind and partially sighted people.”

Olivia Curno, Chief Executive



The power of a legacy

Legacies are vital to Vision Foundation and this one, which brings with it such a powerful story of loss, is particularly poignant. Irma’s generous decision nearly 50 years ago, is making our vital work possible today.

A gift in your Will – whatever the size – will enable Vision Foundation to fund crucial projects and services that transform the lives of people living with or facing sight loss. Your legacy will be to ensure blind and partially sighted people can maintain their independence and engage with their local community.

These special gifts are vital to ensuring we can continue to empower, inform and include blind and partially sighted people. In turn, we will create a fairer society for everyone.

If you have any queries about leaving a gift in your Will to Vision Foundation, Francesca from our fundraising team will be happy to talk you through the process. You can reach her on 020 7620 4994 and FRevell@visionfoundation.org.uk.