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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.
The Panel considered a claim on behalf of Margraf & Co GmbH, a company liquidated by the Nazis in the late 1930s, for an oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled Cros de Cagnes, Mer, Montagnes, now in the possession of Bristol City Council. The Margraf group of companies was owned by Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer.
The Panel concluded that whilst the loss of the Painting amounted to a forced sale, it was not as a result of Nazi persecution but rather as a direct result of Margraf’s bankers’ legitimate exercise of their rights over the painting and other art works in order to realise a significant debt which the Margraf group had accrued and which had its origins prior to the Nazis coming to power. The circumstances in which Margraf lost possession of the painting came about as a result of its indebtedness to its bankers, compounded by the precarious financial position in which the Oppenheimers found themselves following inheritance taxes lawfully imposed upon them in 1929.
The Panel’s conclusion was therefore that Margraf’s claim to the painting was weak and that the claim should be rejected. The Panel recommended that the Oppenheimers’ connection with the painting should be incorporated into its narrative history when it is displayed.
To read the report, click here.
ESLi, the European Shoah Legacy Institute, in cooperation with Pavel Svoboda MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, hosted a conference and exhibition on conflict looting and the importance of provenance research to cultural heritage protection. To read the press release, click here.
While Switzerland's official position is that the publication of provenance research on the internet is an important goal, virtually no research has been undertaken at most Swiss museums since the Swiss endorsement of the Washington Principles in 1998.
Any initiative has come from the Federal Office of Culture which officially supports the commitment to provenance research. Research was carried out over a decade ago into the small federal collection. It created a website - www.bak.admin.ch/rk - which allows museums to publish their research. It is currently evaluating the website to see if the content and presentation of the information can be improved.
In 2007 the Federal Office of Culture established a working group of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the cantons (Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education, EDK) and museum associations (Association of Museums in Switzerland, VMS, Swiss Art Museums Association, VSK) on issues related to looted art.
In 2008 it carried out a survey of research and restitution in 551 Swiss museums which was published in November 2010. 461 responded. 326 responded that they were 'not at or only slightly impacted by the problem of Nazi-looted art'. 25 museums stated that they were impacted and had undertaken either comprehensive or partial provenance research; 8 replied that they had undertaken research 'to some extent'. 90 museums did not respond to the question. 261 museums (63% of respondents) stated they had conducted no research. For full details of the report, see the report 'FDHA/FDFA report on the state of work on Nazi-looted art, in particular, on the subject of provenance research' here.
In March 2015 the Federal Office of Culture convened a meeting with the 12 Swiss art museums which had officially endorsed the Washington Principles and anticipates a follow-up meeting being held in autumn 2015. These museums are the following: Aargauer Kunsthaus; Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel; Kunstmuseum Bern; Bündner Kunstmuseum; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Genève; Kunsthaus Glarus; Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne; Kunstmuseum Luzern; Kunstmuseum Solothurn; Kunstmuseum St.Gallen; Kunstmuseum Winterthur; Kunsthaus Zürich. Some of those 12 museums have conducted some research but it is not linked to the Federal website and only very erratically available and then not in depth on their own sites. The Office of Culture recommends that each museum be contacted individually for further information on their research progress and findings. In the future, it is planned that their provenance research will be accessible by a link to the Federal website.
The Swiss authorities have now just announced that they plan to publish the provenance research of 164 museums and collections and link it to the Office of Culture website in 2016 and 2017 and that all these museums and collections have committed to do this. They have also announced that in 2016/2017, they will, for the first time, offer financial assistance for provenance research projects whose results will be published.
10 September 2015: In a report of 26 March 2014, the Spoliation Advisory Panel recommended the restitution of the Constable painting 'Beaching a boat, Brighton' in the Tate London to the heirs of Baron Ferenc Hatvany of Hungary on the basis of the moral strength of the Claimants’ case that the painting had been seized in Hungary and not restituted and the moral obligation on the Tate. On 21 May 2014 the Tate trustees met and authorised the deaccessioning of the painting. However, restitution was stayed after new evidence emerged. In October 2014 the Tate submitted the new evidence to the Panel - a Hungarian export licence of 17 December 1946, found in the archives of the Museum of Fine Arts Budapest, which included a painting described as 'Constable: Fishing Boat, oil canvas 24 x 29"'. Both claimants and the Tate accepted that this referred to the painting in question and both undertook further research which was then submitted to the Panel for its consideration.
The Panel found the following: No link had been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export licence. The work was still being described as looted in an official Hungarian government register compiled between 1946 and 1948. Hatvany was known to be buying works back at this time and there is no record of him selling other works in 1946. The Panel concluded "that on the balance of probabilities he had not recovered it after it was looted and that the export licence was being sought by persons who were either ignorant of its pre-1944 provenance or, knowing it, were sufficiently confident that the work would not in all likelihood be identified as formerly part of the Hatvany collection by the procedures then in force in the Museum of Fine Art in Budapest. Therefore, the Panel concludes that there is nothing in the new material which would lead it to reach a different conclusion and recommendation from its original Report of 26 March 2014".
To read the new report, click here.
Herrick Feinstein, the New York law firm where Charles Goldstein was a Senior Counsel, write:
July 30, 2015 – it is with great sadness that we share the loss of our friend and colleague, Charles Goldstein.
Charles was remarkable in many ways. After becoming New York's premier real estate attorney from the 1960s through the 90s (see the New York Times article "Charles Goldstein: Real Estate Attorney to the Powerful"), he embarked on a completely new career in art law.
In doing so, he became an international leader in the world-wide efforts to recover Nazi-looted art and return it to the families of the original owners after Ronald Lauder asked him to develop and lead the Commission for Art Recovery ("CAR"). In that capacity, he was responsible for all governmental affairs and litigation arising out of CAR's activities in Europe and the United States, and supervised claims, negotiations and litigation in many countries around the world.
Charles was also a frequent lecturer at art restitution seminars in the U.S. and Europe, and the author of numerous articles on the subject. Lawyers, government officials, experts, journalists and others throughout the world regularly sought his sage advice on art restitution matters.
It was a true inspiration for many of us to work so closely with Charles.
Edited by Dr Andreas Strobl of the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich and published by Deutscher Kunstverlag, the catalogue (and associated exhibition) arises from a four year project to identify the provenance of some 617 works, mostly by Rudolf von Alt but also 16 by Jakob von Alt, and many from the Martin Bormann collection which acquired them from Viennese Jewish collections (http://www.zikg.eu/projekte/projekte-zi/rudolf-von-alt-zeichnungen-und-aquarelle). The catalogue contains references to and research into von Alt works associated with names of Viennese collectors, ranging from Blauhorn to Bloch-Bauer, Heissfeld to Klinger, Mautner to Zuckerkandl. The catalogue is widely available for purchase.
He seeks a revision of the regulations by which the Dutch Restitutions Committee makes its decisions and asks for an assurance of an independent assessment of the Semmel claim.
On 25 April 2013 the Dutch Restitutions Committee handed down a binding decision that a 'Madonna and Child with Wild Roses' painting by Jan van Scorel now in the Centraal Museum Utrecht would not be returned to the heirs of Richard Semmel, its rightful owner, despite the Committee finding that the sale of the painting by Semmel was involuntary. Utilitisng new regulations, the Committee found that the interest of the Museum in keeping the painting it acquired in 1958 should outweight the rights of the heirs to its restitution. No compensation was offered.
The heirs subsequently took the case to the Court of Utrecht which ruled in January 2015 that the decision was invalid and that the procedures of the Committee did not provide equality for both parties. Prior to the court's ruling, the Dutch Culture Minister Mrs Bussemaker suggested to the claimants that they seek alternative dispute resolution. However, the museum refused and suggested instead that they return to the Restitutions Committee for another decision, saying they had no reason to question its procedures.
Mr Ossmann writes that the heirs' second attempt to find a new impartial ruling was through Parliament which proposed to the Minister that an ad hoc committe be set up for the purpose. The Minister asked the Chair of the Restitutions Committee to advise and he said that wa unnecessary and that the Restittuions Committee itself could re-hear the case. Despite the court having specifically ruled that the procecures and criteria of the Committee explicitly favoured the current possessor of a claimed painting, the Minister nonetheless accepted the Chair's proposal, which further ruptured the required independence between government and the Committee.
Mr Ossmann's open letter calls upon the Minister to revise the regulations which the court criticised as not providing impartial justice. He writes that it is clear that museums will not willingly give up artworks even when there is a valid claim for them.and the Committee's regulations make that the most likely outcome of any claim. Mr Ossmann further calls upon the Minister to say how the Committee could provide a different ruling given that the criteria have not changed, and seeks the provision of a fair and speedy solution for the claimants by the establishment of an ad-hoc committee which can guarantee a just, independent and impartial decision..
To read the letter, click here.
Prominent U.S. museums have evaded the restitution of Nazi-looted artworks to their rightful owners and heirs by refusing to resolve claims on their facts and merits and by asserting technical defenses, such as statutes of limitations, according to a new World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) report, authored with the pro-bono assistance of the American law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP. The report calls for three recommendations to promote merit-based resolutions of Holocaust-era claims against U.S. museums.
These recommendations include encouraging U.S. museums to live up to the spirit of the Washington Conference Principles, Terezin Declaration and the Guidelines of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); having the AAM ensure compliance of its member museums by withholding accreditation; and enacting legislation to extend statutes of limitations for Holocaust-era restitution claims.
American museums named in the report as improperly defending against Nazi-looted art claims include the Toledo Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. “Museums are central to a civilized society,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO chair of operations. “The American museum community, while understandably an advocate for artwork to remain in public hands, must follow through on its prior commitments not to taint collections with art stolen during the Holocaust.”
To read the report, click here.
Erna Felicia and Hans Lachmann-Mosse, Mosse’s daughter and son-in-law, were unlawfully deprived of the drawing, 'Lady with Red Blouse', shortly after the Nazi takeover in Germany in 1933. Oskar Reinhart purchased the pastel from the art dealer Fritz Nathan in Munich in 1934. He had been regularly in touch with Nathan since 1928 and later helped him escape to Switzerland in 1936. He paid 3,632 Swiss Francs, which was a customary price for high-quality drawings by Menzel at the time. In 1940, Oskar Reinhart gave the work to the foundation, which he had established to make his art collection available to the public.
Launched in 2012, the Mosse Art Restitution Project shed light on the circumstances that led to the bankruptcy of the Mosse publishing house as well as to the seizure of the collection and public auction of the objects in 1934 in Berlin. Mosse’s descendants had already left Germany. Due to these new insights, the foundation in its press release, writes that "the foundation board of the Oskar Reinhart Foundation contacted the heirs and offered to restitute the pastel, which had been expropriated from the family in 1934. Oskar Reinhart strictly avoided offers with unclear provenance in the 1930s. The foundation board is convinced that it acts in the interest of the founder by giving back a work that from today's perspective would not have been purchased by Reinhart if he had known about the exact circum-stances of the sale."
To read the full press release issued by the Foundation, click here. All missing works from the Mosse Collection are listed in the Object Database on this site. To review them, enter 'Mosse' into the Name box of the Provenance section on the Search page.
15 June 2015: Established in Boca Raton, Florida, the Foundation has identified some 113 Torah scrolls in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia and states that it is "the only organization that is dedicated to locating, recovering and restoring Judaica to communal and educational uses".
In its description of itself, the Foundation writes: "From 2011 to now, a small group of "regular" Jews from Florida came together with some of the world's leading experts in Holocaust education and museums and a group of Rabbis from Russia, Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and the United States. The timing was right. The Government officials in Russia were cooperative and recognized the importance of restoring the Judaica, which could be used to help strengthen Jewish communities in the own country and bring honor to their country. The result was that The Foundation has successfully located, documented and started to restore 113 Torahs from the Regional Universal Scientific Library of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia."
The Foundation has identified looted Judaica in the following locations:
In Belarus - Torahs, Rare Books, Megilahs, Manuscripts & Silver: in the National Library of Belarus (NBB), the State Museum of History and Culture of Belarus in Minsk, the State Historical Archive, the Historical Museum of Mogileve, and in the Historical Museum of Vitebsk;
In Russia - Torahs, Rare Books, Megilahs, Religious Texts: in the Russian Ministry of Defense Central Archives, in the Special (Osoby) Archive (TsGOA, TsKhIDK), in the Russian State Military Archive & State Historical Museum (GIM), in the Regional Scientific Library In Nizhny Novgorod, in the Regional Library on the Volga.and in the Nizhny Novgorod Art Museum;
In Poland - Torahs, Books, Silver, Ark Curtains & Synagogue Items: in Warsaw’s National Museum, in the Krakow Historical Museum, in the National Musuem in Kielc, in the Historical Museum in Lodz and in the Regional museums in Lublin, Nowy Sacz, Tarnow, Bialoystok, Kazimierz Dolny, Rzeszow, Drohiczyn and Wlodawa;
In Romania - Torahs, Jewish Books and manuscripts;
In Ukraine - Torahs, Rare Books and Manuscripts: the National Vernadsky Library of Ukraine holds 150,000 books and manuscripts dating to the 16th Century
For further details, visit the Foundation's website at http://www.thejewishheritagefoundation.com/
On 4 June Judge John Walter issued his ruling on the long-standing claim of the heirs of Lilly Cassirer to recover the Pissarro painting which she was forced to sell in 1939. The painting is now in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, acquired in 1976 by Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza from a New York dealer. Judge Walter ruled that Spain had title to the painting but called on the Museum to follow international principles and 'do the right thing'. To read the ruling, click here.
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 email@example.com.