Skip to main content

Howard J. Trienens (1923-) Papers, 1986-1999 "Searle/Degas" Case

Identifier: 1/15

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Howard J. Trienens Papers consist of the entire case file from the Searle/Degas legal proceedings--Nick Goodman, et al. v. Searle--which formed the basis for Trienens' book, Landscape with Smokestacks: the Case of the Allegedly Plundered Degas. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, depositions, produced documents, pleadings, research materials, and clippings. There is a certain amount of duplication of documents among the categories, since the same materials (exhibits, affidavits, etc.) were often used by both plaintiffs and defendant.

General Correspondence files span the years 1986-1999. These files include correspondence between the defendant and the members of his legal team, letters from the plaintiffs and their lawyers, and correspondence regarding documents, witnesses, and the day-to-day process of the legal action. Many items are photocopies of original letters, or include attached photocopied documents. The final folder contains details of the settlement of the case. Correspondence Subject Files contain correspondence and other documents concerning one person or entity. Five folders contain the attorneys' consultation with their counterparts in England, France, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland. Memoranda were generated by and addressed to members of the Sidley and Austin legal team as they worked on the Searle/Degas case. Subject Files and Memoranda are also arranged in reverse chronological order.

Depositions consist of transcripts of the testimony of the defendant, the plaintiffs, and other parties involved, along with the exhibits and other relevant documents produced as evidence. Between March, 1997 and February, 1998, depositions were taken from art dealer Margo Pollins Schab, Chicago Art Insitute curators Suzanne McCullagh and Douglas Druick; from the expert witnesses; and from consultant Hermine Chivain-Cobb, as well as from Searle and the Goodmans/Gutmanns. In some cases, condensed or compressed versions of the transcripts, along with indexes or concordances, accompany the depositions. Many of the exhibits included in the depositions were also brought in as produced documents and/or pleadings.

Produced documents comprise nearly three cubic feet of records. The bulk of the documents--over 5000 pages--was supplied by the plaintiffs; the index alone fills two folders (Box 10, folders 4-5). Each document page is numbered. The defendant's documents consist of DCS 1-1582; the plaintiffs' documents are numbered NSLG 1-5295. Documents include materials directly related to the artwork in question, dating back to letters from Friedrich Gutmann to his children, correspondence between the heirs and the various agencies established at the end of the war to value, locate, and return confiscated goods. Indirectly related materials include reports and interrogations by US and foreign governmental agencies, postwar, regarding known purveyors of stolen art. Many of the plaintiffs' documents are in foreign languages (mostly Dutch, French or German); folders containing translations of the important documents, supplied by translators for Sidley & Austin, are located after the last of the NSLG produced documents. In a number of cases, materials furnished as produced documents also appeared as exhibits to depositions and to pretrial pleadings.

Pretrial memoranda and drafts include proposed statements of uncontested and contested facts and jury instructions, prepared by Sidley & Austin. Pleadings presented at the pretrial conferences on August 5 and August 19, 1998, are arranged in numerical order (Pretrial I: Pleadings 1-89 and Pretrial II: Pleadings 1-40). The Pleadings consist of the legal documents--from the July 7, 1996 Summons to the August 19, 1998 Stipulation of Dismissal--submitted by either side during the course of the legal action. Documents include subpoenas, motions, interrogatories, orders, notices, requests for document production, responses, and statements. Indexes listing the documents submitted are located in Box 16 folder 6 and Box 19 folder 5, respectively. Many of these documents also exist as depositions or produced documents.

Clippings fall into two main categories: those covering the Searle case and the Goodmans/Gutmanns; and clippings regarding related cases or the topic of confiscated art in genera1. Clippings come from newspapers and from general and special-interest magazines published locally or elsewhere in the country. The folders of clippings related directly to the case also include transcripts of radio or television news announcements or interviews with the Goodmans. Many of the clippings are photocopies; all are identified as to their source and date.


  • 1986 - 1999
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1986
  • Agreement Received: 2000-11-22


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


21.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Howard J. Trienens completed both his undergraduate and graduate education at Northwestern University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1945 and his J.D. in 1949. The papers of Howard J. Trienens consist of his case file from the Searle/Degas legal proceedings--Nick Goodman, et al. v. Searle. The case involved a Degas monotype ("Landscape with smokestacks", or "Paysage avec fumée de cheminées", 1890) owned by one of Trienens' clients. The case formed the basis for Trienens' book, Landscape with Smokestacks: the Case of the Allegedly Plundered Degas. Materials in the papers include correspondence, memoranda, depositions, produced documents, pleadings, research materials, and clippings.


The Howard J. Trienens Papers are organized into: correspondence: general (in chronological order); correspondence: subject files (in alphabetical order); memoranda (in chronological order); depositions (in chronological order); produced documents (arranged by party and document number); pleadings; research materials, and clippings.

Method of Acquisition

The papers were donated to the University Archives by Howard J. Trienens on November 22, 2000, as Accession No. 00-304.

Separated Materials

Twelve videocassettes (VC# 797-808) of taped depositions and of related materials (including television interviews with the Goodmans and Lili Gutmann) and one audiocasette were separated to the University Archives' audio-visual collection. A number of photographs were separated to the University Archives' photograph collection.

Two books were transferred to the Northwestern University Art Library: Degas: the Complete Etchings, Lithographs and Monotypes (ed. Jean Adhémar and Françoise Cachin, London: Thames & Hudson, 1974) and Degas Monotypes: Essay, Catalogue & Checklist (Eugenia Parry Janis, Cambridge: Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1968).

One folder (Box 3, Folder 9) was returned to the donor.

One cubic foot of duplicate materials was returned to the donor.

Processing Information

Janet C. Olson, December 2000.

Guide to the Howard J. Trienens (1923-) Papers, 1986-1999 "Searle/Degas" Case
Janet C. Olson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US