Martha Nierenberg

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Martha Nierenberg
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Martha née Weiss de Csepel Nierenberg

(1924-03-12)March 12, 1924
DiedJune 27, 2020(2020-06-27) (aged 96)
Rye, New York
  • MSc in biochemistry
  • MIT
Alma mater
  • Radcliffe College
  • Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research
OrganizationDansk Designs
Spouse(s)Theodore David Nierenberg
  • Alfonz Weiss de Csepel (father)
  • Erzsbet Herzog Weiss de Csepel (mother)

Martha Nierenberg (1924 – 2020) founded, with her husband Ted, Dansk Designs.

Martha née Weiss de Csepel Nierenberg was born in Budapest on March 12, 1924 into one of Hungary’s wealthiest families. She was the daughter of Alfonz Weiss de Csepel, who on the death of his father, headed the Manfred Weiss Works and its foundation.[1] Her mother, Erzsbet Herzog Weiss de Csepel, was a medical doctor who had studied psychiatry in Vienna with Anna Freud.

Her maternal grandfather the banker Baron Mór Lipót Herzog (1869 – 1934) was one of Europe’s leading art and antiquities collectors. Her paternal grandfather, Manfred Weiss de Csepel, had founded the Manfred Weiss Steel and Metal Works, Hungary’s largest machine factory, employing 40,000 people.

Martha had two brothers (John, 1936–2017) and a sister (Mary Radcliffe). Jewish by birth, Martha attended a Calvinist school, to focus on science and math, then enrolled in a science college in Budapest.[2]

She evaded capture during the Second World War by fleeing via Austria to Portugal in 1944. After more than a year there, she emigrated with her mother to the United States on 27 December 1946.[3]

A scientist who spoke six languages, Martha received a Master of Science degree in biochemistry from Radcliffe College and conducted research at MIT and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in Manhattan.

She met Theodore David Nierenberg (1923 – 2009) , owner of a metal finishing company, at the Broadway premiere of Guys and Dolls in 1950. They married in 1951, moved to Great Neck, on Long Island, and had four children – Lisa, Karin Weisburgh, Peter and Al. The family lived in Armonk from 1963 to 2013. In 1954, she and Nierenberg founded the Dansk Designs housewares company.[4]

She died on June 27, 2020 in Rye, New York.

Claims for restitution of art

In 1995 Nierenberg commenced a decades-long Holocaust art restitution battle with the Republic of Hungary that would count as one of the highest-value cases ever pursued by a single family. Among the 44 paintings Hungary has refused to return are four works by El Greco, and others by Zurbarán, Velázquez, Corot, Courbet, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. Nierenberg's trustee, her granddaughter Robin Bunevich, estimated the collection to be worth $100 million.[2] in 2010, Nierenber's nephew, David, with funding from the billionaire philanthropist Ronald S. Lauder, filed suit in United States District Court for the District of Columbia.[5] In June 2017, Judge Tatel found the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not prevent the survivors of a Holocaust victim from suing to recover art stolen by Nazi plunderers, over the partial dissent of Senior Judge A. Raymond Randolph.[6][7] In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[8]

In the media


  1. Landman, Isaac; Rittenberg, Louis; Cohen, Simon, eds. (1939–1943). The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. p. 492.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mashburg, Tom (30 July 2020). "Martha Nierenberg, 96, Entrepreneur Who Fought for Family's Art, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Nierenberg, Martha (10 February 2000). "Restitution of Holocaust Assets. Statement of Martha Nierenberg to the Committee on Banking and Financial Services". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Froelich, Sarah (Spring 2011). "Feast for the Eye". Gastronomica: 9–11 – via University of California Press Journals.
  5. Tatel, David S. (13 April 2013). "David L. De Csepel, et al. v. Republic of Hungary, et al" (PDF). United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Tatel, David S. (20 June 2017). "De Csepel v. Republic of Hungary. Dist. Court, Dist. of Columbia 2020". Google Scholar. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. "Foreign Relations Law" (PDF). Harvard Law Review. December 2017. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. Hickley, Catherine (7 February 2019). "Heirs of Baron Herzog Continue Battle for Nazi-Looted Art Collection Despite US Supreme Court Dismissal". The Art Newspaper. Retrieved 2 August 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links

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