Art Law: A Procedural Proposal for the Gurlitt Art Find

Dispute Resolution in Germany 20 December 2013
By Peter Bert

Lorenz Kähler this week in Legal Tribune Online published a  proposal on how to overcome the procedural stalemate around the Gurlitt art find: On behalf of the potential owners of the art works found with Gurlitt, the Augsburg court should appoint a curator (Pfleger) on the basis of Sec. 1913 German Civil Code (BGB).

This provision applies if it is “unknown or uncertain who is the person involved in a matter”. Kähler proposes that such a curator or guardian is appointed as a representative on behalf of the unknown owners in order to protect their legal position both vis-a-vis Gurlitt, and the Augsburg public prosecutor’s office (Staatsanwaltschaft). Obviously, the curator’s first task would be to find out on behalf of precisely which individuals he has been appointed, but as Kähler points out, that is perfectly well within his mandate. So let’s wait and see whether the idea is taken up by the Augsburg court.
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