News

Looted art advocate Irina Antonova dies
Der Spiegel 1 December 2020
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Restitution de 7 œuvres d'art spoliées faisant partie des œuvres dites Musées nationaux Récupération (MNR) aux ayants droit de Marguerite Stern
Ministère de la Culture 1 December 2020
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In a Year of Unprecedented Financial Strain, Germany Has Approved a €2.1 Billion Culture Budget—Its Largest Ever
Artnet 30 November 2020
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Hunt still on for a Van Gogh self-portrait lost deep in a salt mine during the Second World War
The Art Newspaper 27 November 2020
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Still missing eight decades later
Monuments Men Foundation Newsletter 36
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How East Germany seized valuables from its citizens
Deutsche Welle 26 November 2020
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Museum of the Bible returns hand-written gospels looted from Greece during the First World War
The Art Newspaper 26 November 2020
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Chair of Dutch Nazi-loot committee resigns ahead of report on restitution policy
The Art Newspaper 26 November 2020
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Alfred Hammerstein stapt op als voorzitter Restitutiecommissie
NRC 24 November 2020
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Belgische roofkunst duikt op in Canada
De Standard 24 November 2020
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The real-life Monuments Man: One of last WW2 veterans who inspired George Clooney movie and helped liberate Nazi concentration camp dies aged 100 as US consul general pays tribute to 'selfless hero'
Daily Mail 21 November 2020
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Nazi-looted painting should return to OU, federal judge rules
The Oklahoman 21 November 2020
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Tributes paid after death of Northern Ireland WW2 veteran aged 100
Irish Examiner 21 November 2020
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Jewish collections looted by the Nazis to be examined and traced in new database
The Art Newspaper 20 November 2020
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Historian shows Nazi-era links behind prestigious art collection
Swissinfo 19 November 2020
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Germany is revising the Holocaust in order to keep stolen art.
Forward 19 November 2020
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Art Gallery of Ontario returns painting to family following claim by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe
AGO & CLAE Joint Press Release 18 November 2020
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Websites and Resources

Lexicon of Austrian Provenance Research - Lexikon der österreichischen Provenienzforschung
A digitised encyclopaedia of provenance research on individuals and institutions in Austria between 1930 and 1960
click to visit
Weltkunst 1927-1944
The journal of the German and international art market digitised by the Heidelberg University Library, making it possible to search for artworks, collectors, auctions or museums from the Weimar Republic to the Nazi era.
click to visit
Bundesarchiv B323 Records on Nazi looting and restitution
Files, documents and photographs from various sources that contributed to the identification, clarification of  ownership and restitution of looted cultural property after 1945 in Germany.
click to visit
Mapping the Lives
Biographical details of over 400,000 people from the 1939 German Minority Census, expanded with data from verifiable archival sources.
click to visit
Looted Cultural Assets
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 created a joint website with the provenance details of over 12,000 books which may be looted. For more information click here.
click to visit
UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws
Provides access to national laws currently in force (with translations), import/export certificates, contact details for national authorities and addresses of official national websites dedicated to the protection of the cultural heritage.
click to visit
Dutch Museums Provenance Research
Results of 'Museum Acquisitions from 1933' project showing 41 Dutch museums are in possession of at least 139 items with 'problematic' origins.
click to visit
Swiss Looted Art Portal
Opened in June 2013, this government-run site provides details of museums' provenance research, advice on making enquiries, research and claims and links to relevant databases and archives in Switzerland and beyond.
click to visit
WGA-Files - Akten der Wieder- gutmachungsämter von Berlin - Case Records of the Berlin Restitution Offices
Digitised restitution case records of the Berlin Restitution Offices held in the Landesarchiv Berlin, consisting of the record group B Rep 025, Wiedergutmachungsämter von Berlin, containing more than 800,000 files.
click to visit
European Sales Catalogues 1930-1945 Heidelberg University
3,000 digitised auction catalogues including both German-speaking countries and the countries of occupied Europe - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland - and including every genre of cultural object, from paintings to tapestries to silver and books. Provides the entire texts of auction catalogues. Searchable by auction house, artist, work of art, etc.
click to visit
German Sales Catalogs 1930–1945 at the Getty
More than 2,000 German language sales catalogues published between 1930 and 1945 including more than 230,000 individual auction sales records for paintings, sculptures, and drawings only. Searchable by artist name and nationality, lot title, buyer or seller’s name, city in which the sale occurred, type of subject matter and other fields. Provides only individual lot details, and links to Heidelberg for the full catalogue.  
click to visit
Hermann Goering Collection
Contains 4,263 paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestries and other art objects, purchased or acquired from confiscated property, many available for restitution today.
click to visit
International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property
The Portal provides for the first time digital access to millions of cultural property records from the National Archives of the US, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, France and other archival sources.  
click to visit
Polish Wartime Losses
Launched on 2 February 2011 by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and including missing paintings from public and private collections by Raphael, Van Dyck, Rubens and others, reflecting the 70% of Poland's art lost to the Nazis.
click to visit
ERR Database
The Nazi records and photographs of the looting of more than 20,000 objects from Jews in France and Belgium. Click here for background details.
click to visit
Galerie Heinemann
c 43,500 paintings and c 13,000 persons and institutions associated with their acquisition or sale by the Munich art dealer Galerie Heinemann from 1890 to 1939.  Click here for the full background.
click to visit
Hungary on Trial: Herzog Collection
The history of the family, a copy of the July 2010 lawsuit filed in New York and photos of the artworks.
click to visit
'Degenerate Art' / Aktion 'Entartete Kunst' website
The fate of more than 21,000 artworks condemned as “degenerate” by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937.  Click here for background details. 
click to visit
Central Collecting Point Munich Database
Index cards and photographs of the 170,000 works of art collected up by the Allies at the end of the war and inventoried from 1945 till 1951.
click to visit
Hitler's Linz Collection
A searchable, illustrated catalogue of the 4,731 works of art found by the Allies in the Linz Collection, with provenance details. Click here for detailed information.
click to visit
The Austrian National Fund
Hundreds of looted objects in Austrian public collections available for restitution.
click to visit

Conferences and Events

Enteignet, entzogen, verkauft: Zur Aufarbeitung der Kulturgutverluste in der DDR, Panel Discussion, Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften Halle (Saale), 29 November 2020

'Expropriated, Withdrawn, Sold: Processing the Loss of Cultural Property in the GDR' - a panel discussion preceding the following day's conference - on the current status of the historical, legal and social reappraisal of the loss of cultural assets in the GDR. With Ulrike Lorenz (President, Klassik Stiftung Weimar), Roland Jahn (Federal Commissioner for the Records of the DDR State Security Service), Ulf Bischof (lawyer) and Uwe Hartmann (Head, Provenance Research Department, German Lost Art Foundation). Registration essential by 20 November. Full details here.

VEB Kunst – Kulturgutentzug und Handel in der DDR, Online conference, German Lost Art Foundation, 30 November 2020

Taking stock of research into the confiscation of cultural property in the Soviet Occupation Zone (SBZ) and in the GDR, what has been achieved so far, what is feasible and formulating next goals. The focus will be the GDR's domestic and foreign trade in art and antiques, its interaction with state museum policy and overlap with contexts of injustice and international reach. Registration deadline 20 November 2020. Full details here.

Rekonstruktion und Lokalisierung der privaten Kunstsammlung des Teppichhändlers Felix Ganz (1869-1944), Inhaber der Firma Ludwig Ganz AG aus Mainz“, Launch of the research project, 2 December 2020, 18.00

Online  Professor Adam Ganz and Nathalie Neumann launch the project to reconstruct the art collection of Felix Ganz (1869-1944). For full details and to register to attend, click here.

Provenance and the Catalogue Raisonné, Conference online, ICRA, 3 December 2020, 9.30am-5.30pm UK time

The International Catalogue Raisonné Association’s (ICRA) second annual conference will include a mixture of pre-recorded and live presentations with opportunity for questions and debate. Ticket price for non-members is £100. For full details of the programme, click here.

Deaccessioning Collection Items, Institute of Art and Law Short Course, 4 December 2020, 1pm-6pm (UK)

Online  To include the law and ethics of deaccession and restitution and repatriation, for museums and other arts professionals. For full details and to book, click here.

Concealed Histories: Uncovering the Story of Nazi Looting, Exhibition, Victoria & Albert Museum London, 6 December 2019-10 January 2021

Curated by Jacques Schuhmacher and Alice Minter, Curator of the Gilbert Collection, the display – the first of its kind by a UK museum – uncovers eight stories of Jewish collectors and their families under the Nazis and forms part of the V&A's commitment to proactive research into the provenance of the items in its care. For full details, click here.

Imperial Artifacts: History, Law, and the Looting of Cultural Property, Conference, Leiden University, 28-29 January 2021

An interdisciplinary conference which aspires to bring together (post-)colonial historians, legal historians, curators, international lawyers, and others engaged with the field to establish research collaborations by critically investigating stories of colonial looting, the framing of colonial history within museums, the origins of the legal framework concerning European laws of war and restitution, as well as a way forward for restitution claims. Call for papers by 31 August 2020. Click here for full details.

The Fate of Antiquities in the Nazi Era, College Art Association Annual (virtual) Conference, 10–13 February 2021

On the extent of confiscations, forced sales, thefts, looting, losses, illegal exportations and trade; the major private collectors and dealers; and provenance research. Proposals for presentations related to Near Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman or Byzantine antiquities with a history in the Nazi era by 16 September 2020. For full details, click here.

Deposits. A form of translocation of cultural assets and its significance for Swiss museums (1933-1960), Conference, Kunstmuseum Bern, 11-12 March 2021

On the history of institutions and collecting, including issues such as which collectors moved their art collections to Switzerland and which to other countries, the role of dealers, politicians or artists as agents in the divestiture or translocation of works transported abroad, the political and legal factors affect the movement of works in or out of the country. Call for papers by 30 June 2020. For full details, click here.

Jahrestagung des Arbeitskreises für Provenienzforschung e.V., Jubiläum – 20 Jahre Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung, Hamburg, 19-20 April 2021

NOW RESCHEDULED  A conference on 'Expropriation, Transfer, Transit - People, Objects, Places and Events' to mark the 20th anniversary of the Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung (Provenance Research Working Group). For details, click here.

Kolloquium Provenienz- und Sammlungsforschung (XII) -Provenance and Collection Research Colloquium, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 28 April 2021

NOW RESCHEDULED  On the theme of art trade archives and followed by the 2021 Helbing Lecture. Save the date, programme to follow at a later date.

Terms of Art: Understanding the Mechanics of Dispossession During the Nazi Period, Symposium, 6-7 May 2021, HCPO, New York

To explore the methods of involuntary loss from a historical, art historical and practical basis. Now rescheduled for May 2021. For further details about the symposium, click here.

Der Umgang mit Umzugsgut jüdischer Emigranten in europäischen Häfen - The Handling of Removal Goods of Jewish Emigrants in European Ports, International symposium, Haus der Wissenschaft Bremen, 20 May 2021, 10am-6pm

NOW RESCHEDULED  Current research on the Nazi confiscation of removal goods belonging to Jewish emigrants in German and European port cities including Bremen, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Trieste. For full details, click here.  

Publications

Unbewältigt? Ästhetische Moderne und Nationalsozialismus - Unmastered Past? Modernism in Nazi Germany. Art. Art Trade, Curatorial Practice
October 2020
. Contributions from a 2019 conference organised by Meike Hoffmann and Dieter Scholz on what motivated artists, art historians, and art dealers to try to link expressionism with Nazism and the mechanisms which defined the canonisation of expressionism in art history after the Second World War and the return of ideologically charged concepts and patterns of argumentation in the present.
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»Die Zeit drängt & überall sind Schattenseiten« Die Sammlung Abraham Adelsberger und das Gemälde Fischerboote bei Frauenchiemsee von Josef Wopfner. Erläuterung der Forschungsergebnisse und Restitutionsgrundlagen
October 2020
Johannes Gramlich. On the restitution by the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen in 2020 of the oil painting 'Fischerboote bei Frauenchiemsee' by Joseph Wopfner to the heirs of Alfred Isay (1885–1948). The painting was part of the extensive collection of Abraham Adelsberger (1863–1940) of Nuremberg who gave it to Alfred Isay, his son-in-law, as security for a loan in 1932/33. Isay lost ownership of the painting in 1935, and the painting went to Martin Bormann, head of the Nazi Chancellery in Berlin. It was found by the Allies at the end of the war and, its rightful ownership unknown, handed over to the custody of the state of Bavaria. In 1956 Bavaria assumed ownership. The painting remained in their state collection for the next 64 years.
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Jakob Goldschmidt - Ewige Schuld?
September 2020
Dr Sabine Rudolph. From the earliest days, no other Jewish banker was subjected to such malicious anti-Semitic hostility as Jakob Goldschmidt. In July 1931 in “Der Führer,” he was held responsible for having caused the collapse of the Danatbank, and was accused of being motivated by the typical Jewish greed for profit. This image outlived the Nazi regime and impacted the proceedings that he and his heirs initiated to reclaim their lost assets from that era. Now can a court ruling finally put an end to this?
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La collection disparue
September 2020
Pauline Baer de Perignon. The personal journey of Pauline Baer de Perignon, great-granddaughter of the renowned French collector Jules Strauss, tracing the story of what happened after the family apartment was raided by the Nazis in 1942 and accompanying her in her discoveries, her battles, her disappointments, and a form of reconciliation.
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Vom Iconic Turn zum Provenancial Turn? Ein Beitrag zur Methodendiskussion in der Kunstwissenschaft
July 2020
Dr Christoph Zuschlag. An article by Prof. Dr. Christoph Zuschlag, who holds the chair in Modern and Contemporary Art History (19th-21st century) with a focus on provenance research and the history of collecting at the University of Bonn, about the increasing impact of the 'provenance turn', that is, the development of provenance studies. He writes that they are connected to numerous cultural studies and humanities subjects, disciplines and discourses and should therefore be investigated in transdisciplinary cooperation. He considers that the 'provenance turn' will have a lasting and profound impact on university art history as well as practical museum work.  
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A Goudstikker van Goyen in Gdansk: A Case Study of Nazi-Looted Art in Poland
June 2020
Dr Patricia Kennedy Grimsted. A Van Goyen from the Goudstikker collection illustrates the many “missing” Dutch paintings sold to Nazi-era German museums in cities that became part of postwar Poland where viable claims procedures for Holocaust victims and heirs are still lacking. It also raises important issues in provenance research for still-displaced Nazi-looted art.
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Kunstfund Gurlitt. Wege der Forschung“ (Gurlitt Art Trove: Research Pathways)
May 2020
Eds Andrea Baresel-Brand, Nadine Bahrmann and Gilbert Lupfer. Reflecting the latest research and illuminating lesser-known aspects of the Gurlitt case. 
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The Berlin Masterpieces in America: Paintings, Politics, and the Monuments Men
April 2020
Peter Jonathan Bell and Kristi A. Nelson. As the Allies advanced into Germany in April 1945, General Patton’s Third Army discovered the collections of the Berlin State Museums. The US military government ordered that 202 “works of art of greatest importance” be sent on a whistle-stop tour of 13 US cities. This fully illustrated volume is the first to examine the entire journey of the “202” and its historical-political implications.
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Fritz Bauer: The Jewish Prosecutor Who Brought Eichmann and Auschwitz to Trial
April 2020
Ronen Steinke, translated by Sinead Crowe. Fritz Bauer (1903–1968) played a key role in the arrest of Adolf Eichmann and the initiation of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. There was a Jewish Museum exhibition in 2014 and then a film about Fritz Bauer as an Unlikely Movie Hero. Now an English translation of Ronen Steinke’s acclaimed biography has been published by Indiana University Press.
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Dissent and Displacement
February 2020
Monica Petzal. Celebrating storytelling and the ways in which we reflect on our lives, Monica Petzal explores German-Jewish refugee heritage, the themes of persecution, opposition and persistence through a series of 36 large-scale handmade lithographs. The book complements the exhibition 'Dissent and Displacement - A Modern Story'.
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The Nazi Confiscation of Wanda Landowska’s Musical Collection and Its Aftermath
January 2020
Carla Shapreau . About the renowned harpsichordist and piano soloist, Wanda Landowska, a Polish Jew, whose musical collection was confiscated by the Nazi Sonderstab Musik in Paris in May 1940 and transported to Germany, some of it found by the Allies in May 1945. Carla Shapreau documents this history,what was recovered and how much remains missing today.
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Terezín Declaration – Ten Years Later: Conference Proceedings
January 2020
The published proceedings of the international academic conference held in Prague on 18-19 June, 2019 which reviewed progress since the 2009 Terezin Declaration are available here.
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The Demise of the World of the Gutnajers: The Warsaw Art Market in World War II
January 2020
Nawojka Cieslinska-Lobkowicz. Nawojka Cieslinska-Lobkowicz explores the salons of the brothers Bernard and Abe Gutnajer, among a substantial number of Jewish art and antiques dealers who operated in pre-World War II Warsaw. Virtually everyone in their milieu perished in the Warsaw ghetto or Treblinka. Taking their place were new “Aryan” dealers and a clientele of “new” money. The Warsaw art market under the German occupation experienced a particular growth between the start of the Jewish ghetto’s liquidation in mid-1942 and the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, as “abandoned” property flooded the market.
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Warum ein „Restatement of Restitution Rules for Nazi-Confiscated Art"? Das Beispiel „Fluchtgut" (The example of 'Flight goods')
January 2020
Matthias Weller and Anne Dewey. Matthias Weller and Anne Dewey write about the concept of 'Flight Goods' in the context of the German government-funded project to 're-state the Washington Principles'.
read more

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 Bibliographies on all aspects of looted art, the art trade, archives and restitution, click here.

For details of the most recent international resources, click here and also see below, Online Resources and Case News.

To subscribe to our looted art newsletter, click here.

NEW

17 November 2020 Pilot project to digitise and analyse 42,000 Nazi-era files in the Brandenburg Main State Archive

As part of a pilot project, some 42,000 files of the NS-Vermögensverwertungsstelle Berlin-Brandenburg (National Socialist Asset Recovery Office Berlin-Brandenburg) are to be made digitally accessible and analysed with the aim of providing information on the seizure and whereabouts of cultural property confiscated in the course of Nazi persecution. Of particular importance for provenance research, the files contain information on those who profited from the Nazi art theft and their relationships to museums and other cultural institutions. This materail will help clarify the provenance of supected Nazi-looted artworks in German public institutions. The files also often contain the last information on those persecuted, deported and murdered which remains of immense significance today for relatives and heirs. For full details of the files and the project, click here.

16 November 2020: The Fate of the Adolphe Schloss Collection

The Jewish Digital Cultural Recovery Project (JDCRP) has launched its pilot project focusing on the 333 artworks that comprised the Adolphe Schloss collection in France pre-war. The project will create 'an event-based model database that will tell the story of these objects while exploring how art dealers, art galleries, auction houses, collectors, looting agencies, determined the fate—licit and/or illicit—of the Schloss paintings, one-third of which are still unaccounted for and circulating in the international art market'.

'Digitizing thousands of documents and photographs from archives in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States from which critical information is being extracted, processed, and analyzed for inclusion into the model database, we are creating an information system that will be searchable and provide a visual understanding of displaced art objects through time and space as well as the forces and influences that give shape to their story.'

The project is co-funded by the EU and the Claims Conference and led by Avishag Ben-Yosef, Project Manager, and Marc Masurovsky, Academic Director. For more information, visit http://jdcrp.org/.

13 November 2020: The Koenigs Case in Focus and Dutch Restitution Policy in General: Evaluation of Proceedings at the Dutch Restitutions Committee

On 19 December 2019, Dutch Culture Minister Ingrid Engelshoven requested the Council of State establish a committee to evaluate the functioning of the Restitutions Committee between 2015 and 2020. On 11 March 2020, the Netherlands Advisory Committee on the Evaluation of Restitution Policy for Art Looted n the Second World War was established, chaired by Jacob Kohnstamm with six committee members - Lennart Booij, Hagar Heijmans, Nina Polak, Rob Polak, Emile Schrijver and Henny Troostwijk - and supported by the secretariat of Pieter Bots and Nadine Youhat. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kohnstamm Committee held hearings on zoom to hear the views of experts and interested parties in the field. The Committee is due to present its report on 7 December 2020.

Christine Koenigs, claimant for the Koenigs Collection, met wih the Committee on 27 May and wries that she 'was left with the feeling of not having been able to fully explain the issues involved, striving for completeness', She has now written an essay which focuses first on the Koenigs case and then on the moral implications of Dutch Restitution Policy in general. This second part refers back also to a May 2020 document by Christine Koenigs, 'Ethics in Policy', on the subject of the factual procedural changes within Dutch Restitution policy.

To read the essay in Dutch, click here. To read it in English, click here.

 

Missing Judaica collection of Max Raphael Hahn (1880-1942) of Göttingen, Germany

Since March 2020, research has been carried out to locate the Judaica collection of Max Raphael Hahn (1880-1942), a businessman and leading member of the Jewish community of Göttingen, who was murdered in Riga in 1942. The collection numbered some 167 mainly silver objects. The project is jointly run by the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum of Arts and Crafts) Hamburg and a grandson of Max Hahn in Vancouver, Canada, and is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation.

On 21 February 1939, the Dritte Anordnung auf Grund der Verordnung über die Anmeldung des Vermögens von Juden (Third Directive based on the Ordinance on the Registration of Jewish Property) was issued according to which all Jews in Germany had to hand over precious metals, gems and pearls at one of the 66 public pawnbrokers across Germany. Max Hahn handed over his collection in Göttingen and Hamburg in 1939, and it was transferred in 1940 to the Städtische Pfandleihanstalt (Municipal Pawnbroker's Office) Department III - Central Office, Berlin.

The missing objects have now been listed on lostart.de, divided into three slightly puzzling categories: 'Craft and other folk arts' 154 objects; Numismatics 8 objects; and 'Ritual objects and equipment' 4 objects (totalling 166 objects). The 'craft and other folk arts' category includes many ritual objects including rimonim (Torah finals), Torah shields, several yads, a haroset bowl, kiddush cups, a pidyon haben bowl, besamim (spice) boxes, havdalah sets, hanukkiot, etrog containers, a shaddai, tefillin cases, mezuzah cases, seder bowls, shabbat lamps, and other items, many with photographs. The 'Ritual objects and equipment' consist of a 19th century omer book, a Prague megillah, an Amsterdam bridal prayer book and an 1836 Livorno bridal prayer book.
 
The project began following the Museum identifying the 1757 kiddush cup (shown below) in its collection, depicting Jacob and his fight with the angel, as belonging to Max Hahn and restituting it in 2018. It had been transferred to the Museum by the Finanzbehörde (Tax Authority) Hambug in 1960. For full details see here

 

Three blog posts based on research into the Julius Böhler Archive

In 2015, the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte (ZIKG) in Munich acquired the extensive archive of the Munich Art Gallery Julius Böhler (est. 1880) which documents a large number of transactions between 1903 and 1994. With branch offices in Berlin, Lucerne and New York, Böhler had an international reach.

Funded jointly by the Ernst von Siemens Kunstfonds and the Deutsches Lost Art Foundation, a ZIKG project is now researching the gallery’s practices and aims to improve future access to the archive which are very relevant for the study of the art market and provenance in the 20th century and particularly in the Nazi era.

Project director Birgit Jooss has recently published three blog posts highlighting particularly interesting transactions. The first concerns complicated barter deals, the second is on an ivory relief which was acquired at an important auction, organized to liquidate the stock of three major Berlin art galleries,Galerie van Diemen & Co GmbH, Altkunst Antiquitäten GmbH, Dr.Otto Burchard & Co GmbH,
held in January 1935 by the Berlin auctioneer Paul Graupe, and the third is about deals made with museums which enabled Böhler to buy on the French art market during the war.

To read these blog posts, please click here

INHA Podcast: Paris 1940-1944 – Les rouages d’un marché trouble / The Mechanics of a Murky Market (in French)

During the Occupation, the art market was in full swing in France: spoliations, looting of museums, lucrative art trafficking. In a podcast, Ines Rotermund-Reynard of INHA (Insititut national d'histoire de l'art) launches the new Directory of Art Market Actors under the German Occupation, shedding new light on well-kept secrets which will help advance the still sensitive issue of the restitution of spoliated works.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

30 October 2020: IFAR Launches Enhancements to its Comprehensive Catalogues Raisonnés Database

The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) has announced new functionality to its online Catalogues Raisonnés Database at www.ifar.org/cat_rais.php. The new features, designed in response to user requests, allow researchers to filter their searches to find  digitized and online catalogues among the thousands of publications in the Database. Currently the Database contains information on more than 4,700 published and in-preparation catalogues raisonnés concerning 3,175 artists. These can be searched by author’s name, artist’s name, and artist’s place of birth, death or period of activity. The new filters enable users to limit search results to fully digitized print catalogues and both free and subscription-based “born-digital” online catalogues raisonnés. To date, the Database includes 280 digitized print catalogues and more than 200 online catalogues raisonnés, the majority of which are not listed in WorldCat or other library records. On the revamped site, filtered searches bring up annotated entries containing links to fully digitized print publications or online catalogues raisonnés. Searches will also bring up online catalogues raisonnés that are still in preparation. A previous enhancement enabled users to locate the nearest library holding a copy of a catalogue.

23 October 2020: Launch of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute Digital Archives – a repository of over 50,000 digital resources

The Wildenstein Plattner Institute has announced the launch of the WPI Digital Archives – a repository of over 50,000 digital resources documenting the work of French dealers, collectors, and artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The source materials were originally assembled by the Wildenstein Institute throughout the 20th century for provenance and catalogue raisonné research.

In addition to the WPI Digital Archives, the Sales Catalogues database allows users to search 11,000+ pre-1945 annotated sales catalogues by keyword, auction house, city, date, artist, or collector name.

For more information visit wpi-art.org

Obituary of Dr Stephan Kellner 1956-2020

Stephan Kellner, head of the Bavarica Department at the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) Munich, died unexpectedly on 14 October. For many years he had been committed to the identification and restitution of Nazi looted books in the State Library and to assisting famiiies with thoughtfulness and understanding. Under his leadership, some 65,000 books acquired by the Library between 1933-1945 were researched, and looted books returned to their rightful owners. Research into a further 30,000 books from Nazi organisations given to the Library by the US military government after 1945 continues.

An obituary written by his colleagues in the German Working Group on Provenance Research and Restitution (Der Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung und Restitution) and the Libraries Commission on Provenance Research and Provenance Development (dbv - Kommission Provenienzforschung und Provenienzerschließung) is reproduced below:


We feel a great sadness. Suddenly and unexpectedly our dear colleague and friend Stephan Kellner has died.

Since the foundation of the „Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung und Restitution – Bibliotheken“ („Working Group Provenance Research and Restitution – Libraries“) he always enriched our meetings with his wise and modest character. In the last two years Stephan Kellner has simultaneously supported the dbv Kommission Provenienzforschung und Provenienzerschließung („Commission for Provenance Research and Restitution“) as a permanent guest.

We all benefited from his experiences, which he gladly shared with us. His good ideas we were privileged to adopt: be it creating an online exhibition or finding the appropriate approach to restitution. We fondly remember our 6th meeting, which Stephan and his colleagues organized in November 2016 in Munich. The meeting took place at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte and we were able to witness the restitution of books that had been owned by the art historian August Liebermann Mayer to his daughter Angelika B. Mayer’s representative. Stephan had organized the handing over in a very dignified and emphatic manner. He has consistently been a driving force in encouraging libraries to cooperate in the restitution of books – for example, in 2015 when books from the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums („Higher Institute for Jewish Studies“) were returned, or in 2017 when books were given back to the Loge zu den drei Weltkugeln (the masonic lodge „The Three Globes“). He picked us up, took us with him, and if necessary pushed us. His empathetic and dependable communication skills were, what made many restitutions even possible in the first place. He has motivated us not to slacken in our efforts to examine the stocks of our libraries for Nazi looted books and, if possible, to find heirs to whom we can give back the books.

You could always ask him – whether by phone or e-mail, Stephan always had an open ear. His fine sense of humor made him a pleasant and ever energizing companion. One enjoyed talking to him so very much. How we will miss that.

His family writes: „Those who knew him, know what we have lost.“ – We know.

30 September 2020: French Appeal Court Judgement Orders Restitution of Three Nazi-Looted André Derain Paintings to Family of Jewish Art Dealer René Gimpel

The Paris Appeal Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence that the three Derain paintings -- one at the Musee Cantini in Marseille, and two at the Musée d’art Moderne de Troyes -- were in fact the paintings that René Gimpel had acquired before the war, and that they were sold under duress after 1940, during the war.  The court ordered the return of all three works to the family. To read the judgement, click here.

Hedwig's Lost Van Gogh: Malcolm Gladwell Revisionist History Podcast

An escape from war-torn Germany. Lavish dinners with Hollywood royalty. A Swedish baron and a dime-store heiress: we explore the long journey of a Van Gogh still life — and what it says about the real value of the things we treasure. This episode of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast is dedicated to Vase with Carnations by Vincent Van Gogh, now in the Detroit Institute of Arts and once in the collection of Hedwig Ullmann of Frankfurt, until she was forced to flee Germany and sell her art collection. The painting is not an important work of Van Gogh and languished in storage in Detroit for years as a painting of little artistic value. Yet when the Ullmann family found it, Detroit fought tooth and nail to keep it and now sells 'Vase with Carnations' soap and socks in its museum shop. He explores how the provenance hid the painting's real history and why Detroit behaved as it did. He is not a fan of Detroit, nor of the Toledo Museum of Art, nor of other US museums which refused to return the paintings of the Ullmann and other families, gripped with the compulsion to keep works of art come what may. To hear the podcast, click here.

 

2 September 2020: German Provenance Research Manual published in English

The German Lost Art Foundation has published an English language version of the November 2019 'Leitfaden Provenienzforschung', with the title 'Provenance Research Manual to Identify Cultural Property Seized Due to Persecution during the National Socialist Era'. The guide is a joint project developed with the Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung e. V. (Provenance Research Association), Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung und Restitution – Bibliotheken (Provenance Research and Restitution Association of Libraries); the Deutscher Museumsbund e. V. (German Museums Association) representing the interests of museums; and its counterpart, the Deutsche Bibliotheksverband e. V. (German Library Association); and ICOM Germany e. V., the German chapter of the International Council of Museums.

The manual ranges from chapters on philosophy (the historical, ethical and moral obligation to confront Nazi looting of cultural property and the crime perpetrated by Nazi rule in general) to practice, methodology and case studies. It provides details on the kinds of numbers, stamps, labels, ex libris, trademarks, hallmarks, autographs, dedications, engravings and insertions to be found in and on objects and their significance. It lists archival sources, in Germany and elsewhere, literature and other online resources, and genealogical data and resources. There is a chapter on documenting research transparently and on the obligation to publish all looted works and all works with gaps in their provenance (1933-1945) on lostart.de, the database of the German Lost Art Foundation. All involved in Germany are urged to report any restitutions to the Foundation. A penultimate chapter focuses on just and fair solutions, looks at the presumption of loss and burden of proof, the search for heirs and the deployment of the German Advisory Commission. The final chapter provides information on the participating institutions, national claims panels, and training and education opportunities in Germany.  An Annex lists useful databases and sources on art dealers.


To see and download the Manual, click here. For the Annex, click here.

29 July: Publication of the US Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act Report

The Report is the first of an annual US government review of the national laws and enforceable policies of 46 of the 47 countries (excluding the US itself) that endorsed the 2009 Terezin Declaration. On art the Report concludes:

'In the realm of movable property, there is much left to do to identify looted art and facilitate a fair solution for its return to rightful owners or their heirs.  In most European countries, too many public and private art museums still do not conduct provenance research on their art collections, research that is essential to providing information about potential claims for Nazi-confiscated art.  A handful of countries have only recently begun working on the necessary legislation and mechanisms for restituting artwork, and many others have yet to do so.  France, which originally had been slow in doing provenance research, is now the only country where the effort to identify, return or compensate Nazi-confiscated artworks and cultural objects rests in the office of the head of government, the prime minister.  The country, however, has not revised the law that stipulates that artworks that have been incorporated into public collections cannot be removed from public museums, even if they were confiscated by the Nazis from private collections.  The Netherlands, which had done exemplary provenance research and restitution, recently adopted a “balancing test” that gives its museums the right to retain Nazi-confiscated artworks if their interests outweigh those of representatives of families from whom the Nazis confiscated the art.  Hungary has conducted some research on its holdings of major looted art but has not provided restitution, nor has it made its research public.

Russia, meanwhile, has essentially nationalized most art and cultural property taken by the Soviet Trophy Brigades, which sent valuables back to Russia from occupied territories (including Germany) in 1945.  Despite having enacted a law based upon the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, Russia has done little to conduct provenance research or to restitute or compensate for art recovered at the end of WWII that had been confiscated by the Nazis from Jewish and non-Jewish victims.

There are also positive trends worth highlighting.  Five countries – Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom – have established dispute resolution panels to resolve art claims, as envisioned by the Washington Principles and the Terezin Declaration.  Moreover, in January 2019, the European Parliament passed legislation recognizing the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art.  It urged the European Commission to support the cataloguing of all data on looted cultural goods and to establish principles for dealing with cultural property in future conflicts.

Based on a November 2018 Joint Declaration with the Expert Adviser to the State Department on Holocaust-Era Issues and the Department’s Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Germany allocated significant funds to both public and private museums for provenance research and has informed its public museums that they cannot continue to obtain federal funds unless they participate in the claims process.  Germany also reaffirmed that the precepts it committed to in endorsing the Washington Principles and the Terezin Declaration apply to private museums and collections, as well as to public museums.

Another area examined in this report is the progress in identifying, cataloguing, and preserving Judaica that may be found in libraries, museums, and other repositories; their return to their original owners and other appropriate individuals and institutions; and in particular, the restoration of sacred scrolls and ceremonial objects to their original sacred use in synagogues.  Return of confiscated Judaica and Jewish cultural property has generally not received as much focus as confiscated and looted art.  In the case of certain countries, such as Belarus, progress in this area has stalled.  After World War II, the Soviet Trophy Brigades brought hundreds of thousands of books from France to Minsk that had been stolen by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg – a Nazi organization tasked with expropriating Jewish cultural property.  Most of these books, experts agree, are located in Minsk.'

To read the Report in full and its findings on art, Judaica, real estate, archives and memorialisation, click here.

 

23 July 2020: New Holocaust Database: Reichsanzeiger (Revoked Citizenship and Property Seizures) 1933-1945

Beginning in 1933, the German Government revoked German citizenship for tens of thousands of German Jews, not only those resident in Germany, but also those who had left Germany and were resident in other countries. It took similar action against persons resident in parts of Czechoslovakia which had been annexed. Less well known was the revocation of business licenses or even seizure of firms which had been owned by Jews or political opponents.  These public actions, totaling nearly 90,000 names of persons and firms, mixed together, were regularly published in the Reichsanzeiger, the official German gazette.

In 1985 a compilation of the citizenship revocations was published in book form by K.G. Saur, Die Ausbürgerung deutscher Staatsangehoriger 1933-1945 (The Expatriation of German Citizens, 1933-1945).  However, persons resident outside Germany as well as firms whose names/assets had been seized were not included. The nature/location of property/assets which had been seized was not identified. 

These are all now available in a single searchable database on JewishGen. An introduction, 'Revoked German Citizenship and Property Seizures 1933-1945' by Peter Lande is at https://www.jewishgen.org/databases/holocaust/RevokedGermanCitizenship.html. The database, which is listed in the JewishGen Holocaust Database, is at https://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/. The information in the database came from Herbert Birett, a German researcher and his original data can be found in a spreadsheet at https://tinyurl.com/y7w4ue6j.

 

1 July 2020: Recommendation of the German Advisory Commission in the case of the heirs of A.B. v the Bavarian State Paintings Collections

In its latest and unprecedented recommendation, the Commission awarded restitution on moral and ethical grounds to the claimants, heirs of A.B., the former owner of a private bank in Berlin, of the painting 'Lemon Slice' by the Dutch Old Master Jacob Ochtervelt  The Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (bavarian State Paintings Collections) had received the painting as a donation from the daughter of Frits Thyssen in 1987, had never displayed it and had wished to sell it but were impeded by the problematic provenance. They had opposed restitution on the grounds that A.B. had never been the unconditional owner of the painting, which had been acquired through a loan for which the painting was collateral.

However, the Commission, in its unprecedented decision, set out the series of persecutions to which A.B. and his family had been subject, referred to the 'impressive account of the outstanding symbolic importance the family attaches to the painting' and stated that it recommended 'the restitution of the painting [solely] in order to contribute in this way to recognising and making amends for a piece of historical injustice. In so doing, the Commission also takes into account the fact that the interests of the applicants are not opposed by any comparably important interests of the applicant. The defendant received the painting as part of a larger purchase. With regard to the "Lemon Slice", this was not based on a curatorial decision; the painting is not part of the concept of the collection and has not been exhibited by the collection to date'. The restitution is subject to the State of Bavaria receiving 50% of the proceeds of any sale that takes place within ten years of the restitution.

To read the judgement (which was issued solely in German), click here.

To read a guide English translation of the judgement, click here.

14 July 2020: Annotated Online Edition of Three of Hans Posse's Five Travel Diaries (1939-1942)

Following a three year project funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, the Germanisches National Museum has digitised and put online three of the five travel diaries of Hans Posse, Director of the Dresden Gemaeldegalerie and Hitler's Special Representative for building up his Führermuseum in Linz and for preparing and implementing a distribution programme of artworks to museums in the Reich (1939-1942). Posse's documents in the Deutsche Kunstarchiv include his service diary and five travel diaries documenting his business trips on behalf of Hitler which have been largely unpublished and unexplored to date.

The Reisekladden (Diaries) are great sources for research on Nazi art theft, Nazi museum politics and provenance research containing information Posse needed for his verbal and written reports to Hitler as well as for his conceptual and operational work. They show the full range of his work for Hitler and prove that he was not only Hitler's chief buyer for the Führer Museum, but also Hitler's most important manager of art looting.

The Diaries document in a singular way Posse's activities in the occupied territories, for example in Poland and France, and his contacts with NSDAP organizations such as the local Gauleiters, Gestapo offices, military art protection units, etc. These are not reflected in other archives for the Sonderkommando Linz because they were confidential and only discussed orally. It makes it possible to reconstruct, for example, Posse's inspections of confiscated private collections, as well as his connections to the art trade and the network of art agents he built up, as well as to the competing Nazi organizations in occupied Europe. In doing so, individual works of art are regularly mentioned with their prices and terms of purchase or acquisition.

Hans Posse usually made his travel notes in pencil, directly on site, for example in the looted art depots he visited. The pencil line has now faded, the handwriting is often undisciplined and therefore difficult to decipher, place and person names are often misspelled. The poor readability of the diaries makes it considerably more difficult for the reader to access the content, and requires transcription. The notes also have to be deciphered, as they are usually short notes and lists, which are rarely interrupted by continuous text. Posse often used abbreviations that are not commonly used, such as "Rbdt." (For Rembrandt) or "Hbst." (for the art dealer Karl Haberstock). People, institutions, locations or works have been now indexed and  annotated to faciliate research. In addition, historical context and additional background information have been provided to help with reading the diaries.

To access the three digitised diaries, the list of names appearing in them and to learn how to navigate the digitised copies, go to https://editionhansposse.gnm.de/


For the list of names of individuals and artists appearing in the diaries, click here. For organisations, click here. For details of individual artworks and their owners, here.

20 April 2020: Alternatives to DHM databases for the Munich CCP, Linz and Göring collections

The German Historical Museum (DHM, Deutsches Historisches Museum) hosts databases of the records of the Munich Central Collecting Point, the Linz and Göring collections but the site has been down since the beginning of March and there is no imminent prospect of repair. There are two alternative locations for the records. One is Fold 3, which has the property cards, scanned and available, sourced from the US National Archives; the second is the Bundesarchiv where new high-resolution colour scans of the property cards are also available online at https://invenio.bundesarchiv.de (subject to registration) through the following search sequence:

  - Bundesrepublik Deutschland mit westalliierten Besatzungszonen (1945 ff)
   - Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1949 ff)
      - Finanzen, Wirtschaft
        - B 323 Treuhandverwaltung von Kulturgut bei der
          Oberfinanzdirektion München
Klassifikation:
 - 5 Restitution von Kunstwerken
    - 5.3 Restitutionsnachweise
      - B 323/647 bis B 323/694

10 April 2020: Launch of the Swiss Association for Provenance Research

The recently founded Schweizerischer Arbeitskreis Provenienzforschung (Swiss Association for Provenance Research) has just launched its website and is now open for membership applications. The Association supports the establishment of provenance research and provides a network for provenance researchers in Switzerland. It also encourages the study of the art market and of exhibition and museum history. Details of the association and its board can be found at provenienzforschung.ch (in German and French).

Doctoral Partnership Grant ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery’ (National Gallery London & University of Durham)

This project interrogates the Jewish contribution to the making of the National Gallery. Despite the importance of many Jewish collectors associated with the Gallery – including Alfred de Rothschild, Ludwig Mond, Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted – these men and women have never been studied as a group in relation to the growth of the institution. Focusing on the period from the foundation of the National Gallery (1824) to the end of the Second World (1945), this project will investigate the role of Jewish donors, dealers and trustees in constructing the collections and in administering the institution. The project will consider what, if anything, was distinctive about Jewish taste in painting, and uncover the motivations behind acts of philanthropy on the part of this cultural minority. It will reconstruct the Jewish presence within networks of kinship, business and sociability that sustained the National Gallery in an era of dramatic expansion yet economic hardship and analyse the dynamics which resulted in paintings owned by eminent Jewish collectors entering the public domain in the era before the Holocaust. The project ‘Jewish Collectors and Donors at the National Gallery (c.1830-1945)’ will provide an opportunity to research a fascinating chapter in Jewish history and the history of collecting and allow the student to receive supervision and training across two outstanding institutions. Full details available here

Application deadline: 8 June 2020
Start date: 1 October 2020

11 May 2020: DHM Munich Central Collecting Point database online again

The Munich Central Collecting Point (CCP) database is back online, though with limited functionality. There are limitations in the extended search via the list function, such as the link to the database of the Linz collection. But searches via the Munich and Linz numbers work now, as do searches for single criteria in the advanced search.

May 2020 Newsletter No. 6 of the European Network of Resitution Committees

Issued under the current Austrian chairmanship, the newsletter includes a news section, two cases studies, of a Jacobs Lierens claim in the Netherlands and a Josef and Alice Morgenstern recommendation in Austria, an article on provenance research at the V&A Museum, two conference reports and articles on art restitution in the US and tracing of owners of looted artworks in Austria.  To read the newsletter, click here.

ZADIK becomes part of the University of Cologne

ZADIK, the Central Archive for German and International Art Market Research, is the world's only specialized archive on the history of the art market. It was founded in 1992 as the central archive of the German and international art trade by the Federal Association of German Galleries and Art Dealers BVDG as a non-profit association. At the end of 2014, ZADIK became an affiliated institute of the Philosophical Department of the University of Cologne. Now ZADIK has been incorporated into the University of Cologne as an independent research institute of the Faculty of Philosophy. To read the University of Cologne Press Release, click here.

25 February 2020: Ambassador J. D. Bindenagel files Amicus Curiae brief in Picasso claim against the Metropolitan Museum New York

James D. Bindenagel, US Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues from 1998-2002, and Conference Director for the 1998 Washington Conference on Nazi-Confiscated Art, has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the petition for a hearing by the US Supreme Court by the heirs of Paul and Alice Leffmann in respect of their claim for Picasso's 'The Actor' now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Ambassador Bindenagel, now Director of the Center for International Security and Governance at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn, Germany, argues ia that an earlier court decision that the heirs had waited too long to file their claim is inconsistent with US policy and the HEAR Act:


'The decision threatens to eviscerate the express will of Congress. By limiting the HEAR Act to one time-based defense, the court below will prevent Holocaust-era art claims from being heard on their merits—the precise result that the HEAR Act seeks to avoid. Given that the HEAR Act was a statute intended to have national reach, this Court’s intervention is warranted to prevent the Act
from becoming a dead letter.'


To read the brief, click here. To read the heirs' Petition for Writ of Certiorari, filed on 24 January 2020, click here, and here for the Appendix to the Petition.

 

27 January 2020: EHRI publishes early Holocaust testimony online

As the persecution and mass murder of European Jews unfolded, and shortly after the liberation, activists set out to document the fate of their communities. Jewish historical committees in several countries collected documents, artifacts and testimonies and brought together a major body of evidence - yet one which was later forgotten or used reluctantly. EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure) for the first time, brings together samples of early testmonies of Jewish witnesses and survivors taken before the 1960s. The testimonies are all on the site in their original form and langauge, and there is also an English translation of every text. To visit the site, click here.

23 January 2020: Launch of Proveana, a new research database at the German Lost Art Foundation (DZK)

Launched only in German and in Germany, and aiming to make the content "transparently accessible", the database contains the results of provenance and associated research projects funded by the DZK, the data from which has not previously been transparent or accessible. Search categories include people, businesses, events, collections, provenance information, objects, and further documentary sources, and content includes that of the Lost Art database.

Although the DZK states, in the only English language text about it on the site, that "Proveana provides assistance for those whose cultural assets were seized [and] for their descendants", no part of the database, including the registration to use it and press release about it, are in English, the language most accessible to the victims of the Nazis and their descendants. The DZK English language site makes no reference to Proveana, while the German language site features a number of documents about it. It seems that the DZK has no plans currently to change this. 

To read about Proveana and to access the database, click here.

Dutch Culture Minister establishes Committee to conduct comprehensive review of Dutch art restitution policy and report back by 1 October 2020

In a letter of 17 December 2019 to Holland's Council for Culture (Raad voor Cultuur), the Culture Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven reminds the Council that 2020 is the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War during which large scale looting of cultural property took place from mostly Jewish owners. The current restitution policy was drawn up in 2001 in order to combat the injustice and the restitutions that had not been made by the Netherlands.

While much has been achieved, and amendments made since then, she states that there is much concern about whether the restitution policy in its current form is still adequate. In 2016 her predecessor as minister promised Parliament that the policy would be thoroughly re-evaluated in 2020, and she commands the Council to set up an advisory committee with the following remit:

  • To evaluate the current policy with particular regard to its legal and moral aspects.
  • To advise on possible improvements of the policy

She states that "In order to carry out this assignment, I expect you to hold discussions with the parties involved" and instructs the Committee 'to include at least the following aspects in its evaluation of the policy:

  • The relationship between Dutch policy and the international guideline, the Washington Principles.
  • A comparison of Dutch policy with restitution policy abroad, especially in countries with a similar  restitution policy.
  • The accessibility and familiarity of the restitution policy, with an eye for the suffering of the victims and the dialogue with their heirs.
  • The use of and need for other forms of individual restitution.
  • The three pillars of the policy and whether they require further development (the three pillars being compiling an inventory of looted art in Holland, identification identification of possible heirs of artworks in the NK collection, and restitution through the issuing of advice from the Restitutions Committee)
  • The relationship of the policy to developments in the field of heritage and restitution. Consider, for example, the recent Pechtold Committee advisory report.

She writes that she 'would like to receive the Council's advice on restitution policy before 1 October 2020, after which I will submit my response to the House of Representatives'.

To read the letter, in Dutch, click here.

13 January 2020: Fifth Newsletter of the Network of European Restitution Committes On Nazi-Looted Art

In his editorial, Clemens Jabloner, chair of the Austrian Art Restitution Board and Austrian Federal Minister of Justice, writes:

Further and closer cooperation on different questions can be expected in the future, not least the discussion of comparative law and the various legal solutions. At the conference marking the twentieth anniversary of the CIVS in November, my British counterpart in art restitution, Sir Donnell Deeny, stated publicly: “The particular element that our five committees have in common is that they are all chaired by serving or retired senior judges, and, thus, inherently qualified and disposed to provide to the parties a fair process and independent and impartial adjudication.” I am curious to find out what other similarities and points in common will be identified in the future.

To read the Newsletter, click here.

6 January 2020: Two Dutch Restitution Decisions - Dr Franz Oppenheimer and Herbert Gutmann

At the end of December 2019 the Dutch Restitutions Committee published their recommendation of restitution for 107 Meissen objects to the heirs of Dr Franz Oppenheimer. At the beginning of January 2020 they published their recommendation of restituiton for 14 Meissen objects to the heirs of Herbert Gutmann. In the Oppenheimer case the DRC concluded that it was 'highly likely' that Dr Oppenheimer 'lost possession of these objects involuntarily due to circumstances directly related to the Nazi regime' and that they should be restituted even if they were of importance to the Dutch state. In the Gutmann case, the DRC concluded the objects were 'auctioned off involuntarily, under pressure caused by circumstances directly connected with the Nazi regime. On these grounds, the Committee's opinion is that the Applicants' interests in the restitution of the objects must be given greater weight than the State's interests in retaining them'.

All 107 Oppenheimer object groups are currently 'part of the Dutch National Art Collection. Of these, 90 object groups are on loan to the Rijksmuseum. The other seventeen object groups are part of the Netherlands Art Property Collection (the NK collection) and are on loan to the Kunstmuseum Den Haag (thirteen object groups) and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (four object groups)'. The 14 Gutmann objects are currently 'in Het Loo Palace, the Rijksmuseum and the Zuiderzeemuseum. All objects are part of the Dutch National Art Collection and are the property of the Dutch State'.

To read the Oppenheimer recommendation, click here. To read the Gutmann recommendation, click here.

To read the Gutmann heirs' press release, click here.

12 December 2019: Digitisation of 3-volume Greater Berlin Address Books for 1932-1934

The Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (ZLB) has now digitised three volumes of the Dietzler Auto-Adressbuch for Grosse-Berlin (Greater Berlin) for the years 1932-1934 and these are freely available to all users at https://digital.zlb.de/viewer/metadata/34280679/1/LOG_0000/

26 October 2019: Lost Music Project: The Nazi-Era Plunder of Music in Europe


                             Carel van Lier c. 1930. Looted and
                             restituted ivory hunting horn
                             ©The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld


The Lost Music Project seeks to reconstruct the history of musical material culture looted, confiscated, displaced, or otherwise lost during the Nazi era in occupied Europe, and the aftermath. Evolving research regarding musical manuscripts, printed music, music-related books and archives, musical instruments, and other musicalia documented in public and private archives will be posted to the Project website. In addition to new research, a goal of this project is to make both information and copies of primary source historical records accessible to the public for further research efforts and analysis. The project is led by Dr Carla Shapreau, Lecturer in art and cultural property law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Senior Fellow in the Institute of European Studies, where she is conducting cultural property research, and Curator of the Salz Collection in the Department of Music. For further informaton and to see the website, click here.

 

23 October 2019: Publication of the Fourth Newsletter of the Network of European Restitution Committes On Nazi-Looted Art

The latest Newletter has an editorial by chair of the German Commission, Hans-Jürgen Papier, who writes that the Network is important since "all commissions are dealing with similar problems in the handling of their cases, such as how to deal with gaps in the provenance of an item which, despite intensive research, can not be closed; also dealing with the so-called «Fluchtgut» is one of the aspects that are discussed intensively. For this reason, I am very confident that the network has created another important measure, which will strengthen the work of the commissions in terms of identifying and returning Nazi-looted property and finding fair and just solutions."
Elsewhere in the Newsletter is the 2018 annual report of France's CIVS; advanced notice of a report for the Network by Dr Charlotte Woodhead, to be published in November, on how each committee operates and the differences in approach in determining claims (Recommendation 3 of the 2017 Spoliation Action Plan); a report on the 2011 successful claim by the Budge heirs for three Meissen figures in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and the 'presentation' of the Austrian Art Restitution Act and the two bodies created as a result, the Commission for Provenance Research and the Advisory Board.

To read the Newsletter, click here.

17 October 2019: Claimants in the Guelph Treasure respond to Germany's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court

The claimants for the Guelph Treasure (Welfenschatz) in the possession of Germany's Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) have filed their opposition to the petition filed by the SPK and the Federal Republic of Germany in September 2019 seeking judicial review of a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upholding jurisdiction over the claims. That court rejected in July 2018 and again in June 2019 the appeal by the SPK arguing that the US courts had no jurisdiction over the claim. Germany’s petition to the Supreme Court argues that the allegations concerning the Guelph Treasure were not a taking of property in violation of international law, but rather a question of the Nazis’ taking property from “their own nationals within their own territory.” In response, the claimants argue that the U.S. statute conferring jurisdiction applies to genocidal takings of property in the Holocaust, and that U.S. policy as reflected in the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act compels hearing the case.

The claimants also filed a request to return Germany to the lawsuit.  The same Court of Appeals last year ruled that the commercial activity of the SPK in the United States was insufficient under the law to obtain jurisdiction over Germany. The claimants address their argument that this reading is at odds with the statute’s text.  Germany will have the opportunity to respond in the next 30 days.

To read the claimants' brief in opposition to the German petition, click here. To read the claimants' cross-petition to return Germany to the lawsuit, click here.

10 October 2019: The Ludwig Ginsberg Collection

The Technical University of Berlin in collaboration with the Department of Modern Art History (Prof. Bénédicte Savoy) is undertaking a one-year project dedicated to the systematic examination and research of the Adolph Menzel Collection of the Berlin banker Ludwig Ginsberg (1873-1939). The extensive collection of Menzel's graphic works comprised a large number of rare prints and contained works on paper, some of them of exceptional quality and beauty. It was described in 1930 as the largest Menzel collection ever in private ownership. The Ginsberg Collection was auctioned off in several lots and is largely lost today. So far, works from the collection have appeared in the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin and at the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum in Düren. Both museums will restitute the works that have been added to their collections as a result of persecution.
The project also focuses on research into Ludwig Ginsberg's fate as a persecuted person and the aryanization of the Bank Gebrüder Ginsberg. The TU seeks proactive support for the project, especially from colleagues in provenance research and custodians of graphic collections. The project is funded by the Deutsche Zentrum Kulturgutverluste. Further information about the project and the Ginsberg family can be found here.

17 May 2019 University of Bonn: Research project on international practice in the restitution of Nazi-looted art: “Restatement of Restitution Rules”

A German government funded research project on international practice in the restitution of artworks stolen under the Nazi regime has been established. Led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Weller, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach professor of civil law, art and cultural property law at the University of Bonn, it aims "to provide a comprehensive, comparative analysis of international practice in the restitution of Nazi-looted art [and] to establish a generalized set of rules on how decisions are made based on considerations of fairness and justice. Once established, these rules can be used as guidance and support for those who make decisions and recommendations on matters of restitution."

For full details and to attend the presentation of the project in Bonn on 6 September, click here.

Seeking the owner of the 'O' Collection of Frankfurt am Main, Germany

On 18 and 19 November 1938, 43 works from the 'O.' collection of Frankfurt am Main, designated in the auction catalogue as 'non-Aryan' or 'Nichtarischer Besitz', were sold by the Hans Lange auction house in Berlin. They included paintings by Aert van der Neer, Jacob Ruysdael, Thomas Wijck, Franz von Lenbach, Adolf Lier, Caspar Scheuren, Carl Spitzweg and Adolf von Menzel. If anyone has information on the identity of the owner of the 'O' collection, please write to info@lootedart.com. To see the Lange catalogue, click here

Online Resources and Case News

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 info@lootedart.com.

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