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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.
29 April 2016: The German Advisory Commission has recommended the restitution of the 'Bacchanale' painting by Lovis Corinth to the heirs of Arthur Salomon of Berlin. A businessman, he and his family were persecuted by the Nazis and their property sold at a forced sale at Lepke auction house in 1936. They fled to the Netherlands, but were deported following the Occupation. The children were murdered in Auschwitz and Arthur Salomon perished in Bergen-Belsen. Only his wife survived. The painting was acquired in 1957 by the Gelsenkirchen Museum which refused to restitute, claiming the family had been properly compensated. The Commission disagreed, saying that Arthur Salomon had not received a reasonable price for the painting in 1936 and his heirs had not received adequate compensation in 1962. To read the decision, click here.
22 April 2016: A Finding Aid to the French records on art looting, research, restitution and compensation has been published by the Archives Directorate of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Direction des Archives, Ministere des affaires etrangeres et du developpement international). The records are mostly housed at the Centre des archives at La Corneuve, Paris, apart from documents relating to the French protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia which are held at the Diplomatic Archives in Nantes (Centre des archives diplomatiques de Nantes). To view the Finding Aid, click here.
20 April 2016: The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) has returned two drawings and 26 photographs to the heirs of Professor Curt Glaser. The two drawings were found in the Kupferstichkabinett as a result of provenance research and had been acquired by the Nationalgalerie Berlin at the forced sale of Professor Glaser's property in 1933. The photographs were found following a search of the Art Library to which Professor Glaser gave some 10,000 photographs before his forced emigration in 1933. The SPK in its press release stated that Professor Glaser had lost his position and emigrated in 1933, following a forced sale of his possessions. After a first restitution of works to Glaser's heirs in 2012, and in recognition of his persecution and great service to the Berlin State Museums, a fair and just solution had been agreed by which the heirs received compensation and the works remained in the SPK. To read the decision, click here.
The Flechtheim lawyers have issued a press release in response to the Limbach Commission's decision on their claim for a Juan Gris painting in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. They had withdrawn from the Commission's process at the end of February because of what they experienced as flaws in its operation and procedural irregularities, yet the Commission went ahead and issued its decision. The lawyers call for those responsible to resign and state that 'the German way of dealing with looted art is tarnished'. To read the release, click here.
The Limbach Commission turned down the claim by the Flechtheim heirs for the Juan Gris painting 'Violinist and Inkwell' now in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf which acquired it in 1964. The heirs had claimed that the sale of the painting in London in 1934 was due to Nazi persecution but the Commission rejected this. To read the decision, click here.
Of MoMA’s evolving collection of almost 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art by over 10,000 artists, 65,000 works are now available online. The information provided includes medium, dimensions, object number, department, provenance information, etc. To search the collection, click here.
Four German libraries - the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum Library, the Freie Universität Berlin University Library, the Potsdam University Library, and the Berlin Central and Regional Library - have come together to find a 'new way for libraries to bring justice to their mandates'. The provenance details of over 12,000 books which may be looted are included in the new site, which is well designed and in both English and German. The books were identified through the libraries' provenance research projects and came to the libraries in many different ways.
The aim of the work is the restitution of any Nazi looted books as well as to find a fair and equitable solution for the rightful owners or their heirs. The full details are entered in the shared Looted Cultural Assets database and made searchable. The site provides an alphabetical overview of all persons and institutional entities included in the database. It can also be searched by object types - books, magazine volumes, etc. or just provenance notes like dedications, autographs, stamps, etc. - all of which are displayed on the site. To visit the site, go to http://lootedculturalassets.de/. To read more about the launch, click here.
Stating that the Commission lacks "fairness, transparency and justice" and does not meet "the internationally accepted standards and requirements of similar arbitration boards, run by the state", the five lawyers from Europe and the USA call for nine '"fundamental changes" to the operation of the Commission. The changes include appointing representatives of the victims to the Commission, the possibility of unilateral submission of claims, making decisions binding on public institutions, ensuring the Commission's independence by separating it from the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (which provides its secretariat), bilingual process in German and English and equitable bye-laws. For full details of the changes demanded, see the letter here.
25 February 2016: The Getty Research Institute announced that the latest part of the archive of one of America's oldest and preeminent galleries, M. Knoedler & Co has been processed and partially digitized. Series VII of the Knoedler Gallery Archive consists of 1,579 boxes of photographs of artworks dealt by the firm, including images of works purchased, sold, and examined but not acquired.
The UK Panel turned down the claim stating that 'on the balance of probability..it was neither a forced sale nor a sale at an under-value and that Max [Silberberg] received the proceeds of sale, we have reached the conclusion that the moral claim for the restitution of this small medieval ivory to the Estate of the daughter-in-law of Max is insufficiently strong to warrant a recommendation of restitution or the making of an ex-gratia payment'.
Max Silberberg sold his large and distinguished art collection over four sales at Paul Graupe Berlin in 1935 and 1936 following the forced sale of his home in Breslau to the SS earlier in 1935 and his having had to move to a small rented apartment. Since 1999, there have been 28 successful claims for works from these sales, 10 of which were for works in the October 1935 sale. These have been agreed by entities ranging from the German Federal government to German, Swiss, American, Israeli and Liechtenstein museums as unarguably forced sales, or 'Jew auctions'. In the first restitutions of this period, of a Van Gogh drawing and a Hans von Marées painting from the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, said that "The expiration of legally set deadlines cannot be a reason that injustices are not set right" and the spokesman for the Foundation asserted that "It goes without saying that this blatant injustice will be made right. Without a question the two works belong to [the heir] Mrs Silberberg". The Spoliation Panel in their report made no reference to any of these prior decisions but attribute the sale of the ivory to 'personal financial difficulties necessitating the sale of his collection' while acknowledging that 'Nazi oppression may have contributed to the difficulties of Max Silberberg'.
To read the report, click here.
In only his second public speech ever on art restitution, Ronald Lauder questioned the keenness of Bern to take the Gurlitt collection when it 'was probably stolen from Jewish homes by the Nazis'. The fact that only five works have so far been clearly identified as looted is, he says, likely due to the fact that most of the works in the collection are prints or drawings, which makes them hard to trace. Because of Bern's decision, he began to look at Switzerland’s role with 'lost art' and urges that term no longer be used, as it so misrepresents the thefts and 'sanitizes the crime', 'None of this art was “lost”', he says, so 'let's refer to it as stolen art'. Equally Switzerland should not continue to make the artificial distinction between art that was looted (Raubkunst) and art that was subject to a forced sale (Fluchtgut).
During the war, 'Switzerland quickly became a major center for Nazi stolen art' and justice remains to be done. Cases show 'a troubling lack of shame...these paintings should be given back to their rightful owners'. 'If people are honest, if they really want to solve this issue, if they have a conscience, then they should stop hiding behind excuses.' Reiterating the Washington Principles, he set out six requirements for fair and equitable solutions in Switzerland - and any country:
1. Stolen art must include all art losses caused by Nazi-persecution
2. Provenance research must be conducted pro-actively
3. Sufficient funds must be provided for provenance research
4. There must be complete transparency on all aspects of provenance research by means of one centralized internet database
5. One independent commission must be established to provide fair solutions
6. Auction houses must be open about looted works that they identify
To read the lecture, click here.
The heirs had previously applied for restitution of the cameo, now in Leiden, but that request was rejected in 2009. The Committee has recommended its return now because of new information coming to light showing that Bachstitz sold it for NLG 6,000 to the German museum director Hans Posse, Adolf Hitler’s art buyer in 1941 to pay for his very sick son to stay in a Swiss sanatorium. In the Committee’s opinion the choice of neutral Switzerland cannot be considered in isolation from the situation that was threatening Jews in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands and concluded that there was involuntary loss of possession as a result of the Nazi regime. Since it is plausible that Bachstitz spent the proceeds of the sale on his son’s stay in safety in Switzerland, the Committee recommended that the heirs should not be made to repay the sum concerned.
The heirs had also requested the return of 14 other works of art from the NK collection. Because there was no indication that the sale by Bachstitz took place forcibly, the Restitution Committee advised the minister not to restitute these works of art.
To read the recommendation, click here.
The final report of the Gurlitt Task Force, which began work in November 2013, has been published. 72 pages long, it is only in German, thereby continuing the Task Force's inward-looking record and failure to ensure communication to those most personally interested in its detailed findings - the families who were looted and who generally do not read German.
The Task Force's little known website - all enquiries have always been referred to the lostart.de website which made no reference to it - provides a short English language 'Fact Sheet'. This summarises the research by numbers and in an unclear way. Our attempt to clarify the findings suggests:
Of the 1,258 artworks found in Munich, 507 could be ruled out as looted because they came from German museums or the Gurlitt family; 499 were identified as possibly looted, of which 4 were definitively looted, 27 are very likely to be looted, and 344 are still unclear after some research; 252 still need to have research undertaken. Of the 186 artworks found in Salzburg, 1 is definitively looted, 45 are very likely to be looted, 1 is not, and 139 are still uncertain.
The Fact Sheet also summarises the claims made and how they were dealt with. Of the 118 claims made, 62 (53%) were 'resolved'. However, 15 of the 62 stated to be 'resolved' are also stated not to be as they are 'subject to a review procedure'. 1 artwork is stated to be looted but the family 'had not lodged a claim'. Has the Task Force contacted the family? The Fact Sheet does not say. The Fact Sheeet also does not say how many of the 5 works which are definitively looted have been returned. 56 (47%) of the 118 claims made are not resolved because the research is not completed.
The record set out in the Fact Sheet, the result of two years' work, underscores the Task Force's lack of urgency and achievement in only certainly identifying five looted works of art and not even returning all of them.
To read the Report, click here. To read the Fact Sheet, click here.
5 January 2016: The German Lost Art Foundation has announced how it will undertake the provenance research into the Gurlitt collection following the 31 December 2015 winding up of the Task Force “Schwabinger Kunstfund”, for which the Foundation had assumed responsibility on 1 April 2015. The statement is below. The details and process remain as opaque as they were under the much criticised Task Force:
'In January 2016, the German Lost Art Foundation will launch a new project titled “Gurlitt Provenance Research” which will continue the investigation of the Gurlitt art collection. Research efforts will focus on determining the provenance of works which have not yet been conclusively clarified. Of primary interest are works for which there is a suspicion that they went missing as a result of Nazi persecution or for which such claims have been made.
The project team is headed by Dr. Andrea Baresel-Brand, who is responsible for controlling, administrating and coordinating tasks, and supported by researchers who will conduct provenance research on specific works. A panel of distinguished international experts will review the project’s research findings with regard to their credibility and the appropriate use of scientific methodology. The project will draw on the personal expertise and familiarity with the Gurlitt art collection gained over the past two years. The research findings will be published in German and English following their evaluation by the review experts.
The project is financed by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and is scheduled to run for at least one year.'
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.