The Orpheus Clock

The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis

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About The Book

“An extraordinary piece of history...a fresh and lively read” (The Christian Science Monitor)—the passionate, gripping, true story of one man’s single-minded quest to reclaim his family’s art collection, stolen by the Nazis in World War II.

Simon Goodman’s grandparents came from German-Jewish banking dynasties and perished in concentration camps. And that’s almost all he knew about them—his father rarely spoke of their family history or heritage. But when his father passed away, and Simon received his old papers, a story began to emerge.

The Gutmanns, as they were known then, rose from a small Bohemian hamlet to become one of Germany’s most powerful banking families. They also amassed a magnificent, world-class art collection that included works by Degas, Renoir, Botticelli, Guardi, and many, many more. But the Nazi regime snatched from them everything they had worked to build: their remarkable art, their immense wealth, their prominent social standing, and their very lives. Only after his father’s death did Simon begin to piece together the clues about the Gutmanns’ stolen legacy and the Nazi looting machine. With painstaking detective work across two continents, Simon has been able to prove that many works belonged to his family and successfully secure their return.

“Fascinating...splendid and tragic” (The Wall Street Journal), “Goodman’s story is alternately wrenching and inspiring...An emotional tale of unspeakable horrors, family devotion, and art as a symbol of hope” (Kirkus Reviews). It is not only the account of a twenty-year detective hunt for family treasure, but an unforgettable tale of redemption and restoration.

About The Author

Born in London shortly after WWII and educated at the French Lycée in London, then at Munich University, Simon Goodman entered the music business in the late 1960s, specializing in breaking new British artists abroad. Goodman is married to the actress and teacher May Quigley and has one son and three daughters. He lives in Los Angeles where his search for his family’s treasures continues.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (August 16, 2016)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451697643

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Raves and Reviews

"This is a magnificent book, both poignant and chilling. Ultimately it stands as testimony to how family stories can grip across generations, and how fierce is the impulse to right wrongs. It is very moving indeed -- a huge achievement.”

– Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance

“A remarkable achievement. The Nazis stole the Gutmann family’s art and tried to erase them from history; they almost succeeded. Here, now, with the sweep of a pen and the diligence of a crime reporter, author Simon Goodman has restored his family’s legacy. Shocking, stunning and totally unputdownable, The Orpheus Clock is an absolute must read.”

– Annie Jacobsen, New York Times bestselling author of Operation Paperclip

“An extraordinary piece of history...Even readers well familiar with World War II and Holocaust history will find this a fresh and lively read.”

– Christian Science Monitor

"With a novelist’s narrative gifts, Goodman movingly portrays his family’s victimization by the Nazis and the post-war repercussions of those events....In combining a modern-day detective story with nuanced context for its importance, Goodman produces much more than another Holocaust book."

– Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"Goodman's story is alternately wrenching and inspiring...extraordinary...An emotional tale of unspeakable horrors, family devotion, and art as a symbol of hope."

– Kirkus

"Goodman's absorbing debut will appeal to readers with an interest in the business of art collecting, the cultural heritage of Western Europe, family histories, the work of the Monuments Men, and those who enjoyed The Lady in Gold, or its film version, Woman in Gold."

– Library Journal

"When [Goodman's] father died at the age of 80...letters, documents, and other correspondences revealed a trove of family secrets that led Goodman and his family on a quest for both justice and discovery of their family history....The search is still ongoing, but this account of the struggle so far is both arresting and poignant, combining elements of a family chronicle and an intricate detective story."

– Booklist

"In this heartbreaking book, Simon Goodman uses the theft of his family’s art collection as a lens through which to view the [Holocaust]...there’s a large component of redemption at work here as well. Don’t miss this gripping historical detective story."

– History Book Club

Awards and Honors

  • Paradies Lagardere Non-Fiction Airlines Pick

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