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Welcome to lootedart.com
This site contains two fully searchable databases.
The Information Database contains information and documentation from forty nine countries, including laws and policies, reports and publications, archival records and resources, current cases and relevant websites.
The Object Database contains details of over 25,000 objects of all kinds – paintings, drawings, antiquities, Judaica, etc – looted, missing and/or identified from over fifteen countries.
All images on the site are published under fair use conditions for the purpose of criticism and research.
For a list of Essential Website Links, showing all key research sites and resources,click here.
For details of international resources, see below, Online Resources and Case News.
For the Gurlitt collection at the Kunstmuseum Bern, click here. For the full range of developments on the Gurlitt case, click here. For all news stories, see the News Archive. For all other materials, including ALIU reports, etc, search 'Gurlitt'.
To subscribe to our looted art newsletter, click here.
16 November 2015: Papers were filed in the New York Supreme Court this week to recover two paintings by Egon Schiele, Woman in a black pinafore and Woman hiding her face, by lawyers acting for the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum. The plaintiffs allege that the paintings were stolen from Grunbaum by the Nazis. They were found being offered for sale at the Salon Art + Design Show at the Park Avenue Armory by the New York art dealer Richard Nagy. To read the summons, click here. The exhibits are listed below: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J.
The Recommendation of the German Advisory Commission in the case of ‘Behrens versus Düsseldorf’, issued Berlin 3 February 2015; and the publication in English translation of an article commenting on it by lawyers Dr Henning Kahmann and Varda Naumann
In light of the concern over historical revisionism in the decisions and legal actions of the German Federal Republic, its Advisory (Limbach) Commission and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), the Central Registry is making available two documents:
The first is an English translation of the Recommendation in which the German Advisory (Limbach) Commission rejected the claim of the Behrens' heirs on the basis that the loss of the painting claimed, Pariser Wochentag by Adolph von Menzel, was not due to persecution, asserting that transfers of assets in Germany by Jewish people in 1935 were not coerced, that the Jewish sellers received the market price that prevailed at the time and that they received the proceeds of the sale at their free disposal. The Limbach Commission further asserted that no financial distress associated with persecution was involved as Jewish private banks were doing well in 1935 and were not directly affected by persecution, both official and unofficial, between 1933 and 1935. They specifically assert that Jewish banks benefited from the upswing between 1933 and 1935.
In other cases, currently re Welfenschatz (Guelph), the Limbach Commission, together with the German Federal Republic and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), also asserts that their similar positions are based on the undisputed findings of the available body of research, although the source of this research is not indicated. It is considered that this represents a move towards a revised view of the history of the Nazi era in which transfers of Jewish owned assets up to 1935 are to be considered as normal, despite the available historical evidence and common understanding. In order to address the signficance of this departure from post-war restitution principles, the Central Registry is publishing a second new document.
The second document is the first publication in English of an article by the German lawyers Dr Henning Kahmann and Varda Naumann, 'Comment on the Recommendation by the Advisory Commission in the case of “Behrens v. Düsseldorf”'.
In their article, Kahmann and Naumann set out the ways in which they consider Germany is now departing from the Washington Principles and specifically deviating from the 2001 Guidelines for Implementing the 1999 German Declaration with regard to the 'period of collective persecution' and the 'presumption of persecution'. They further explore these new assertions as to the historical facts which are being 'utilised to show that Nazi persecution was not causative for the loss of property' and provide examples to disprove these assertions. These include measures taken against Jewish-owned banks by the Nazis starting in 1933 and the question of whether equal access to justice was available to Jews after 1933.
If you wish to submit any comments for publication, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Motion to Dismiss the suit of the heirs of the four dealers who sold the Guelph Treasure or Welfenschatz to Germany in 1935 was filed in the New York courts on 29 October by the defendants, the German State and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation which has possession of the Treasure. To read the motion and the grounds on which they are seeking to dismiss the case, click here.
The Panel considered a claim on behalf of Margraf & Co GmbH, a company liquidated by the Nazis in the late 1930s, for an oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled Cros de Cagnes, Mer, Montagnes, now in the possession of Bristol City Council. The Margraf group of companies was owned by Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer.
The Panel concluded that whilst the loss of the Painting amounted to a forced sale, it was not as a result of Nazi persecution but rather as a direct result of Margraf’s bankers’ legitimate exercise of their rights over the painting and other art works in order to realise a significant debt which the Margraf group had accrued and which had its origins prior to the Nazis coming to power. The circumstances in which Margraf lost possession of the painting came about as a result of its indebtedness to its bankers, compounded by the precarious financial position in which the Oppenheimers found themselves following inheritance taxes lawfully imposed upon them in 1929.
The Panel’s conclusion was therefore that Margraf’s claim to the painting was weak and that the claim should be rejected. The Panel recommended that the Oppenheimers’ connection with the painting should be incorporated into its narrative history when it is displayed.
To read the report, click here.
30 October 2015: Knoedler Gallery paintings stock books 7–11 are now in the expanded Dealer Stock Books Database. These stock books, from one of America's oldest and preeminent galleries, document a shift in taste toward modern masters. Dated 1921–1970, these records were transcribed into the database from the stock books' handwritten entries and editorially standardized. They join Knoedler books 1–6 and the Goupil & Cie books, bringing the total number of database records to more than 82,000.
Search the Knoedler Gallery Stock Books database.
Find out more about the archive.
Learn about the transformation of these stock books into the database.
For further details about the digitisation of the Knoedler Gallery records, click here.
ESLi, the European Shoah Legacy Institute, in cooperation with Pavel Svoboda MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, hosted a conference and exhibition on conflict looting and the importance of provenance research to cultural heritage protection. To read the press release, click here.
While Switzerland's official position is that the publication of provenance research on the internet is an important goal, virtually no research has been undertaken at most Swiss museums since the Swiss endorsement of the Washington Principles in 1998.
Any initiative has come from the Federal Office of Culture which officially supports the commitment to provenance research. Research was carried out over a decade ago into the small federal collection. It created a website - www.bak.admin.ch/rk - which allows museums to publish their research. It is currently evaluating the website to see if the content and presentation of the information can be improved.
In 2007 the Federal Office of Culture established a working group of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the cantons (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, EDK) and museum associations (Association of Museums in Switzerland, VMS, Swiss Art Museums Association, VSK) on issues related to looted art.
In 2008 it carried out a survey of research and restitution in 551 Swiss museums which was published in November 2010. 461 responded. 326 responded that they were 'not at or only slightly impacted by the problem of Nazi-looted art'. 25 museums stated that they were impacted and had undertaken either comprehensive or partial provenance research; 8 replied that they had undertaken research 'to some extent'. 90 museums did not respond to the question. 261 museums (63% of respondents) stated they had conducted no research. For full details of the report, see the report 'FDHA/FDFA report on the state of work on Nazi-looted art, in particular, on the subject of provenance research' here.
In March 2015 the Federal Office of Culture convened a meeting with the 12 Swiss art museums which had officially endorsed the Washington Principles and anticipates a follow-up meeting being held in autumn 2015. These museums are the following: Aargauer Kunsthaus; Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel; Kunstmuseum Bern; Bündner Kunstmuseum; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Genève; Kunsthaus Glarus; Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne; Kunstmuseum Luzern; Kunstmuseum Solothurn; Kunstmuseum St.Gallen; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Kunsthaus Zürich. Some of those 12 museums have conducted some research but it is not linked to the Federal website and only very erratically available and then not in depth on their own sites. The Office of Culture recommends that each museum be contacted individually for further information on their research progress and findings. In the future, it is planned that their provenance research will be accessible by a link to the Federal website.
The Swiss authorities have now just announced that they plan to publish the provenance research of 164 museums and collections and link it to the Office of Culture website in 2016 and 2017 and that all these museums and collections have committed to do this. They have also announced that in 2016/2017, they will, for the first time, offer financial assistance for provenance research projects whose results will be published.
10 September 2015: In a report of 26 March 2014, the Spoliation Advisory Panel recommended the restitution of the Constable painting 'Beaching a boat, Brighton' in the Tate London to the heirs of Baron Ferenc Hatvany of Hungary on the basis of the moral strength of the Claimants’ case that the painting had been seized in Hungary and not restituted and the moral obligation on the Tate. On 21 May 2014 the Tate trustees met and authorised the deaccessioning of the painting. However, restitution was stayed after new evidence emerged. In October 2014 the Tate submitted the new evidence to the Panel - a Hungarian export licence of 17 December 1946, found in the archives of the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, which included a painting described as 'Constable: Fishing Boat, oil canvas 24 x 29"'. Both claimants and the Tate accepted that this referred to the painting in question and both undertook further research which was then submitted to the Panel for its consideration.
The Panel found the following: No link had been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export licence. The work was still being described as looted in an official Hungarian government register compiled between 1946 and 1948. Hatvany was known to be buying works back at this time and there is no record of him selling other works in 1946. The Panel concluded "that on the balance of probabilities he had not recovered it after it was looted and that the export licence was being sought by persons who were either ignorant of its pre-1944 provenance or, knowing it, were sufficiently confident that the work would not in all likelihood be identified as formerly part of the Hatvany collection by the procedures then in force in the Museum of Fine Art in Budapest. Therefore, the Panel concludes that there is nothing in the new material which would lead it to reach a different conclusion and recommendation from its original Report of 26 March 2014".
To read the new report, click here.
Prominent U.S. museums have evaded the restitution of Nazi-looted artworks to their rightful owners and heirs by refusing to resolve claims on their facts and merits and by asserting technical defenses, such as statutes of limitations, according to a new World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) report, authored with the pro-bono assistance of the American law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP. The report calls for three recommendations to promote merit-based resolutions of Holocaust-era claims against U.S. museums.
These recommendations include encouraging U.S. museums to live up to the spirit of the Washington Conference Principles, Terezin Declaration and the Guidelines of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); having the AAM ensure compliance of its member museums by withholding accreditation; and enacting legislation to extend statutes of limitations for Holocaust-era restitution claims.
American museums named in the report as improperly defending against Nazi-looted art claims include the Toledo Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. “Museums are central to a civilized society,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO chair of operations. “The American museum community, while understandably an advocate for artwork to remain in public hands, must follow through on its prior commitments not to taint collections with art stolen during the Holocaust.”
To read the report, click here.
Edited by Dr Andreas Strobl of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich and published by Deutscher Kunstverlag, the catalogue (and associated exhibition) arises from a four year project to identify the provenance of some 617 works, mostly by Rudolf von Alt but also 16 by Jakob von Alt, and many from the Martin Bormann collection which acquired them from Viennese Jewish collections (http://www.zikg.eu/projekte/projekte-zi/rudolf-von-alt-zeichnungen-und-aquarelle). The catalogue contains references to and research into von Alt works associated with names of Viennese collectors, ranging from Blauhorn to Bloch-Bauer, Heissfeld to Klinger, Mautner to Zuckerkandl. The catalogue is widely available for purchase.
On 4 June Judge John Walter issued his ruling on the long-standing claim of the heirs of Lilly Cassirer to recover the Pissarro painting which she was forced to sell in 1939. The painting is now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, acquired in 1976 by Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza from a New York dealer. Judge Walter ruled that Spain had title to the painting but called on the Museum to follow international principles and 'do the right thing'. To read the ruling, click here.
Lawsuits: provides details of claims and cases ruled on or being settled in court with copies of court filings and judgements.
Research Resources: provides details of family records, tracing services, art historical resources, texts of post-war reports, and books and publications.
Web Resources: provides details of various online databases of looted paintings, results of provenance research in countries around the world, archival records available online and other research materials.
Seeking Owners of Identified Looted Property: provides lists of names of individuals whose looted property has been identified in institutions in Germany and whose heirs are being sought.
Other categories of information include Governmental Conferences and Hearings, Laws, Policies and Guidelines, Art Trade, and Press, Television, Radio and Film. To explore all these sections, click here.
The site is regularly updated with new resources and developments. To provide details of resources or cases to add to the site, please email email@example.com.