“In the summer of 1939, Munich, ‘The Home of the Monks’, was a lovely city.” Feared SS General Sepp Dietrich drives through the almost bucolic tree lined streets. His SS driver stops the black Mercedes at the door of noted banker and art collector, Solomon Roth, who has traded his superb collection of Impressionist paintings to Reichsmarshall Herman Goering in exchange for the safe passage of his wife and children out of Nazi Germany. One painting remains, a magnificent self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh.
In the spring of 1945 Munich is a very different city, much of it transformed into a wasteland by Allied bombing. American army sergeant Henry, ‘Hank’, Dryden enters the former Roth home searching for weapons and takes the portrait.
For half a century, the painting lies undiscovered in Dryden’s closet in Del Mar, California until feeling his mortality, Hank, enlists the help of his grandson John, a public interest lawyer in Southgate, to determine if it is genuine and if so to sell it. John unwittingly enters the fascinating world of fine art auctions where the richest and most powerful men and women on earth play for stakes that dwarf any in Monte Carlo, Macao, or Las Vegas and millions depend on the wave of a hand or a finger to the nose.
Based on true accounts and experiences accumulated during more than 40 years attending, bidding, and selling at auctions in the United States and Europe, Park Avenue is enriched by speci?c factual detail as well as a classic examination of the workings of the human heart as the Drydens are affected by the ageless lure of undreamt of wealth.
Michael R. Zomber was born in Washington D.C. and educated at Oberlin College, Villanova University, the University of Illinois, and UCLA. He received his M.A. in English Literature from UCLA. The son of two Holocaust survivors who escaped Nazi Germany in 1939, he knew nothing of his Jewish heritage until the age of ten. Following this revelation he became aware of world history and developed a keen interest in the arms and armor of Europe, the Middle East, and Japan.
His grandfather, Robert Eisner, collected paintings by the Impressionist masters and these images by Renoir, Degas, and Gaugain ?red his youthful artistic sensibility. In 1961 Parke Bernet Galleries sold Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer to the Metropolitan Museum for a world record price and from then on Michael Zomber followed the sale results of works of art at auction as closely as he followed major league baseball statistics.