Websites and Resources
Conferences and Events
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.
A motion by the Nahmad defendants to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction was withdrawn after criticism by NY Judge Eileen Bransten of what she called an 'abuse of the court' by the defendants' lawyers. She called for the motion and documents to be resubmitted and stated she will decide the new application on 18th April. To read the ruling click here.
The UK's Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act was passed in 2009 and empowered national museums to give effect to the recommendations of the Spoliation Advisory Panel to restitute looted works of art in public collections. The Act had a ten year sunset clause and would have come to an end in 2019. Following discussions with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe and others, the UK government has decided to extend the act indefinitely. The Bill to enable this will be introduced in the House of Commons on 13 March 2018.
An online Handbook has been written by Julie-Marthe Cohen, Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, and Ruth Jolanda Weinberger and published by the Claims Conference, supported by the World Jewish Restiution Organisation. Its purpose is to help museum staff, researchers, auctioneers, collectors, lawyers, private persons, dealers and other interested parties to trace Judaica objects that were looted or displaced during the 20th century, especially during World War Il in order to facilitate their restitution. The task of identifying and returning plundered Judaica started immediately after the end of the war but is very far from complete.These objects may be found in Jewish and non-Jewish museum collections; in private collections; in Jewish institutions such as communities, synagogues, seminaries; and on the market. For full details, click here.
A report on the conference which took place in Bonn on 30 November/1 December 2017 and which explored issues such as the identity of the stakeholders and the despoiled, the way in which Nazi policies, art history expertise and market interests meshed, and the modus operandi of art market collaboration has been published by the German Lost Art Foundation and is available here. Also included are the speakers' contributions, as pdf files or audio files in French and/or German. Speakers included Bénédicte Savoy, Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Tessa F. Rosebrock, Isabelle Rouge-Ducos on the Hôtel Drouot, Emmanuelle Polack on French gallery owners and Benjamin Fellmann on stolen pianos.
Anders Rydell discussed his book, the story of the systematic pillaging of Europe's libraries by Nazis during World War II, and the small team of heroic librarians now working to return the stolen books to their rightful owners. Through extensive new research, Rydell reveals the untold story of how the Nazis began to compile libraries of their own that were used to wage an intellectual war on their enemies. In this secret war, the libraries of Jews, communists, liberal politicians, LGBT activists, Catholics, Freemasons and other opposition groups were appropriated for Nazi research and used as an intellectual weapon against their owners. For full details and to hear the podcast and read the transcript, click here.
The German government, after international pressure including from the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, has issued a statement that the sale of the von Stuck painting at Van Ham on Friday 17th November be stopped. The painting, one of the Linz collection paintings, was looted at the end of the war from the Fuehrerbau in Munich - see here for further details. The government says that they have asked the sale to be stopped so that the provenance of the painting can be checked to ensure it is not Jewish property lost under Nazi persecution.
Statement of German Federal Ministry of Finance 17 November 2017
Die Bundesregierung steht fest zu den Grundsätzen der Washingtoner Konferenz in Bezug auf Kunstwerke, die von den Nationalsozialisten beschlagnahmt wurden.
Im konkreten Fall des Gemäldes „Zwei Mädchen“ von F. v. Stuck konnte kein Anhaltspunkt ermittelt werden, dass das Gemälde verfolgungsbedingt jüdischen Eigentümern entzogen wurde. Der Bund hat seit 1945 keinen Zugriff auf das Gemälde und deshalb nach allen bisherigen Feststellungen keine Handhabe, eine Versteigerung zu verhindern. Die Bundesregierung hat das Auktionshaus auf die ihm obliegende Provenienzrecherche hingewiesen und gebeten, die für heute anberaumte Versteigerung zunächst zu verschieben, um weitere Sachverhaltsaufklärung zu ermöglichen.
On 6 November 2017, in a ceremony at The Mansion House, London, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of the City of London, the City of London Corporation restituted Jacob Ochtervelt’s The Oyster Meal to Mrs Charlotte Bischoff von Heemskerck, the 96 year old surviving daughter of the late owner, Dr. J. H. Smidt van Gelder, director of the Children’s Hospital of Arnhem, The Netherlands. The 17th century painting, looted in 1945, was the subject of a restitution claim submitted by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE), with extensive supporting documentation, earlier this year. CLAE’s research traced the previously unknown history of The Oyster Meal between its seizure and disappearance in January 1945 and its reappearance on the art market in Switzerland in 1965. For full details, see the Press Release jointly issued by the City of London Corporation and the Commission.
In recent decades, the National and University Library in Zagreb has returned some 7,000 looted books to the Jewish Community of Zagreb. A further 6,800 books in Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish, seized from Croatian Jews or Jews fleeing from Germany or elsewhere, have now been catalogued through a project funded by the Claims Conference. 1,552 of these bear inscriptions or ex libris which could allow the owner to be identified and can be seen on the National Library of Israel website. Persons able to decipher the inscriptions or ex libris are requested to send the resulting information to CroatiaBooks@claimscon.org. For full details of the project and how to view the inscriptions, click here.
In a talk at the Getty Research Institute, Simon Goodman discussed his book, The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family's Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis (2015), and his efforts to track down his family's lost art and possessions looted by the Nazis during World War II. They involved painstaking provenance research across two continents, led to the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the United States, and contributed to the first major restitution in The Netherlands since the 1950s. In his talk, he discusses the advantages of researching in the digital age, compared to the inaccessibility of the art world immediately following the war. To listen, click here.
Małgorzata A. Quinkenstein and Nathalie Neumann, the organisers of the conference, have compiled a report on the conference which focused on three topics: Through which processes was the category of “private property” dissolved during the Nazi regime? What forms of discourse accompanied the appropriation of orphaned property in the paradigm between need and greed? How do the ties of the new property holders to the orphaned properties affect their social networks in time and space? To read the report, click here.
Margarete Moll’s relatives sued the National Gallery of Art in September 2016, claiming they lost Henri Matisse’s 1908 oil painting 'Portrait of Greta Moll' during the Allied occupation of Germany in World War II. But U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni ruled that plaintiffs Oliver Williams et al. failed to establish jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, failed to establish that there had been an illegal taking, and that “even if plaintiffs could allege such facts, their claims are time-barred.” The case was dismissed with prejudice. To read the ruling, click here.
The International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-era Cultural Property, till now hosted by the US National Archives (NARA), is now hosted by the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) as part of the suite of Holocaust-related research resources available through the EHRI website.
The Portal links researchers to archival materials at 22 participating institutions, consisting of descriptions of records and, in many cases, digital images of the records that relate to cultural property that was stolen, looted, seized, forcibly sold, or otherwise lost during the Nazi era. The International Research Portal is an important resource for provenance, claims, and academic researchers to locate relevant archival materials across institutions.
The Portal was enhanced prior to the move to enable searching simultaneously across many of the resources available through the Portal that previously had to be accessed individually. This additional capability greatly improves the ability of researchers to access archival materials across multiple institutions while conducting cross-institutional research. A short article outlining the new search features can be found here. For further information about the Portal and the records available, click here.
Museums are increasingly putting their collections online, most with images. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has 1.5 million objects of which 447,000 are currently online, 307,000 with images. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC which encompasses 19 museums has 154 million objects, 10 million of which are available online, 2.2 million of them with images. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has 1 million objects of which 602,000 are online, all of them with images. The UK has put online the country's 200,000 oil paintings in 3,250 public venues from museums to hospitals and even a lighthouse, all with images, some which had never been photographed before. There are also watercolours and works on paper. Among the online collections are the following:
ArtUK: 200,000 oil paintings, watercolours and works on paper, all with images https://artuk.org/
Bavarian State Paintings Collections, Munich (18 museums): 25,000 works online https://www.pinakothek.de/sammlung
Berlin State Museums (17 collections): 180,000 works online, all with images http://www.smb-digital.de/eMuseumPlus
- also Ancient Bronzes in Berlin: 8,200 objects online acquired by 1945 http://ww2.smb.museum/antikebronzenberlin/index.htm
British Museum, London: 4 million works online, 1 million with one or more images https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx
Dresden State Collections: No information about the number of works online; only published are those with 'cleared' provenances http://skd-online-collection.skd.museum/
Louvre, Paris: 30,000 objects online with images, all are works on display http://cartelen.louvre.fr/cartelen/visite?srv=crt_frm_rs&langue=en&initCritere=true
Metropolitan Museum, New York: 447,000 works online 307,000 with images http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York: 75,000 works online (of 200,000 in total in the collection), 63,000 with images https://www.moma.org/collection/
Prado Museum, Madrid: 3,500 works online with images https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-works
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: 604,000 works online, all with images https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/search?ii=0&p=1
Smithsonian, Washington: 10 million works online, 1.6 million with images http://collections.si.edu/search/about.htm
V&A, London: 1.2 million works online, 675,000 with images https://collections.vam.ac.uk/
Copies of lawsuits filed in various cases, stages and jurisdictions are provided on this site. Cases with recent filings include the claim on 3 March 2017 by the Lewenstein heirs for the Kandinsky painting owned by Munich's Bavarian Landesbank, the claim by the heirs of Alice Leffmann for the Picasso painting 'The Actor' in the Metropolitan Museum NY, the claim for the Guelph Treasure against the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Federal Republic of Germany, and the claim by the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum for a Schiele drawing owned by Richard Nagy. To view the filings, click here.
Country-specific information is available on this site for 48 countries, from Albania to Yugoslavia, in the Information by Country section. Details of important, non country-specific, online resources are available in the International section of the site which contains several categories of information. For example:
Restitutions and Case News: provides details of claims and cases ruled on or settled outside the courts with copies of reports and rulings. Full details of a comprehensive range of cases can be found in the News Archive, which is fully searchable by name of family, artwork, museum, city, etc.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 25 June CLAE published its groundbreaking original research showing that Germany returned Nazi looted artworks to the high-ranking Nazi families who stole it rather than to the families from whom this was taken, and that this remarkable scandal has been covered up by Germany for decades. At the same time, the looted families had their claims thrown out or impossible hurdles created to prevent them recovering their artworks - and this continues today. CLAE is now calling for a full accounting of these shameful transactions with the high-ranking Nazis and the way they have been hidden, as well as for three essential changes in the way Germany handles research and restitution:
1. Lists of all artworks in German collections whose provenance is unclear or problematic must be published so families have a chance of finding their missing paintings; there can be no more waiting for individual item provenance research to be done first;
2. All relevant records must be open and accessible. In particular, the records of the Bavarian Museums must be handed over to the State Archives in accordance with German law;
3. Germany must create a single, fair, transparent and accountable claims process that applies to all collections throughout Germany, at both federal and state level, so that all families can be confident their claims will be dealt with justly.
Germany already made these commitments 18 years ago at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, but has not implemented them. CLAE says that without total transparency and accountability, the victims of the Nazi looting will continue to be denied the justice that is so long overdue.