Born into a Jewish family he studied art history at the Technische Universität Darmstadt and then, in 1906, at the Humboldt University of Berlin where he was taught by Heinrich Wölfflin and Wilhelm Worringer. Westheim published monographs on Oskar Kokoschka, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and Mexican sculpture.
His German citizenship was stripped from him in 1935. He moved to Paris the same year. Despite his exile status, Westheim was considered an enemy alien in France at the beginning of the war and was interned. Shunted from camp to camp (five in all) he later referred to this as his "Tour de France." As France fell to the Germans, he escaped his internment camp in 1941, fleeing France through the ERC (Emergency Rescue Committee). From Marseille he moved to Spain, Portugal and ultimately Mexico, where he married Mariana Frenk, who assisted him.
Paul Westheim's Art Collection
Before the rise of Hitler, Paul Westheim had gathered an important art collection of German Expressionists. In 2013 the heirs of Paul Westheim filed suit against the heirs of Charlotte Weidler for the return of paintings from the collection, which had been entrusted to Weidler for safekeeping during Westheim's flight. Weidler told Westheim the artworks had been destroyed; however she began selling them as her own after his death
- "The Jewish Museum".
- "Westheim, Paul". 2018-02-21.
- Monika, Tatzkow; Thomas, Blubacher; Gunnar, Schnabel (2010-01-01). Lost lives, lost art: jewish collectors, nazi art theft, and the quest for justice. Vendome Press. ISBN 9780865652637. OCLC 901166899.
- "International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)-Case Summary-Frenk v. Solomon". www.ifar.org. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
- "Suit filed by heir of German art critic and publisher Paul Westheim against heirs of Charlotte Weidler 25 January 2013". www.lootedart.com. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
Malcolm Gee, ″Defining the modern art collector in the Weimar years″, in: Geschmacksgeschichte(n): öffentliches und privates Kunstsammeln in Deutschland, 1871–1933, eds. U. Wolff-Thomsen, and S. Kuhrau, Kiel, Verlag Ludwig, 2011, 115–130.
Malcolm Gee, ″The 'cultured city': the art press in Berlin and Paris in the early twentieth century″, in Printed Matters: Printing, Publishing and Urban Culture in Europe in the modern period, eds. M. Gee and T. Kirk, Ashgate, 2002, 150–173.
Malcolm Gee, "The Berlin Art World, 1918–1933" in: Malcolm Gee, Tim Kirk and Jill Steward (eds), The City in central Europe : culture and society from 1800 to the present, Ashgate, 1999.
Melissa Müller, Monika Tatzkow, Lost Lives, Lost Art: Jewish Collectors, Nazi Art Theft, and the Quest for Justice