Rare Judaica paintings to be sold — for ice cream

Stamford Hill art lover sells ‘lost’ Judaica paintings to fund business venture

By Anna Sheinman, September 6, 2012

For the first time in 30 years, six important paintings of scenes from Jewish life, by the artist Alfred Wolmark, are to go on sale.

Five of the paintings, thought lost, were found in a London attic in 1982 and were snapped up by the Stamford Hill art lover and entrepreneur Marton Braun. Mr Braun, who has added another Wolmark to the original five, is now selling his collection at Sotheby’s in November to fund a new venture — mass producing his parev ice cream brand, Antonio Russo.

Mr Braun said: “I am an Orthodox Jew through and through, but I am also a helpless lover of art. I loved these pictures, they were a part of me and I will miss them very much.

“I am selling them out of necessity. As they say in Fiddler on the Roof, ‘it’s no shame to be poor, but no great honour either’”. The pictures are expected to fetch around £250,000 at auction.

Sotheby’s specialist Charlie Minter said: “These paintings are very rare; this sale represents a unique opportunity.”

Alfred Wolmark, an Orthodox Jew himself, was one of the early wave of Jewish immigrants to Stamford Hill, arriving from Warsaw in 1883. Unlike many others in the creative group known as “The Whitechapel Boys”, Wolmark did not shy away from Judaism as a subject, instead embracing it.

Mr Braun can see parallels between the art he is selling and the ice cream brand it will enable. “I want world class. Just because I’m Jewish, does not mean I can’t have the best.

“Alfred Wolmark was not just a Jewish treasure, but a treasure for art. And this ice cream won’t just be good kosher ice cream, it will be just as good as any Italian gelato”.

Last updated: 10:42am, September 6 2012