HARP 6 September 2016
Washington, DC, & New York, NY USA – September 06, 2016:
Ori Z. Soltes, Chair of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project ( “HARP”), expressed, through counsel, his strongest opposition to a bill currently before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, titled the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Act, or S. 3155.
“For the third time, the Association of American Art Museum Directors is attempting to pass in Congress an outrageous bill which would extinguish a number of valid and meritorious looted art claims, not just related to Nazi looted art, but also artworks confiscated during the Bolshevik or Cuban revolutions. Furthermore, this bill will also immunize from suit certain archeological objects looted by ISIS in the Middle East, which is exactly what the U.S. Congress has been attempting to fight against for a number of years. It is imperative for the U.S. Senate to immediately withdraw S. 3155 from consideration,” stated Soltes.
“The leadership of American museums appears to continue to try to remove all possible obstacles to allow stolen, misappropriated or plundered art objects and artifacts to be displayed in American institutions without fear of seizure by individual claimants, or source countries. To them, provenance research and due diligence to ascertain true ownership of artworks are a luxury to be exercised at the discretion of the host institution. That behavior is unacceptable and simply unethical. S. 3155 would help to countenance such misbehavior.” said Soltes.
A letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary was submitted today explaining S. 3155’s devastating effects, including the recognition of all cultural seizures by the Bolshevik and Soviet governments since 1916, as well as all expropriations led by the Castro Cuban Revolutionary regime since 1959. Furthermore, HARP’s letter also explains why S. 3155 would undermine the U.S. policy’s seeking to fight ISIS’s financing from trafficking of cultural objects looted from the Middle East.
HARP is a not-for-profit group based in Washington, DC, dedicated to the identification and restitution of looted artworks requiring detailed research and analysis of public and private archives in North America. HARP has worked for 18 years on the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi regime.