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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.
On 12 October in the Bavarian Parliament, the Culture Minister Ludwig Spaenle responded to questions raised by Opposition parties in July about the Bavarian government's return of seized works of art to high-ranking Nazi families, handed over by the Americans for the purpose of restitution. In his written report, Minister Spaenle does not provide numbers or full details and never addresses the central question of the Bavarian government's responsibility then and now for these returns. He provides no information about the many works returned nor makes any effort to address the issue of what should be done about those returned works which were looted. He writes of current research on surviving works from Nazi collections in Bavarian museums which began in 2012 in response to the questions raised from outside Germany, But again he gives no details of the actual findings about these works and the identity of any rightful owners. To read the report in German, click here. To read an English translation of the report, click here.
Posted on: October 5, 2016 by Alexander Herman of the Institute of Art & Law
We are sad to announce that the Institute of Art & Law’s Academic Principal, Norman Palmer QC (Hon) CBE, has passed away. Norman was the guiding light of this organisation ever since its beginnings over twenty years ago. Along with his wife, Ruth Redmond-Cooper, he made the IAL what it is today. He provided countless hours of instruction to hundreds of students and will no doubt be sorely missed by all. His wisdom and intellectual curiosity led to the publication of foundational tomes, including Palmer on Bailment, Art Loans and Museums and the Holocaust, as well as dozens of articles in the area of art and cultural property law.
Norman Palmer was a great teacher, a great communicator, and a great developer of thought, law and practice on all the central issues of cultural property whether for governments, students, museums, cultural heritage bodies, or those expropriated by the Nazis. The range of his public service was extensive, and included, until April 2015, acting as expert adviser to the UK's Spoliation Advisory Panel, to which he was appointed in May 2000 and served as a member until 2010. His clarity and vision was unique and he will be greatly missed. For more details about Norman Palmer and his career, see Five Stone Buildings
20 September 2016: The Die Linke party in the German Bundestag (Parliament) sent a request for information to the German federal culture minister Monika Grütters on September 20, 2016 regarding the changes being contemplated to the Beratende Kommission (Advisory Commission) on looted art, known as the Limbach Commission, The information request, available in full here, consists of 24 questions, among them the following:
5. For what reasons are representatives of German federal states and municipalities kept informed about the status of these issues, while the Cultural Committee of the Bundestag is not?
14. Does the federal government plan to propose new members of the Commission who have not been long-serving German public servants?
15. Does the federal government plan to allow the Commission to be called upon unilaterally, that is, by one side only to a claim?
19. Does the federal government plan to require the Commission to provide information to third parties as other public bodies do, as contrasted with its current refusal to do so, set out in the argument of the Commission in the law suit pending before the Magdeburg Administrative Court, file no.6 A 81/15 (regarding the request for information by the heir of Hans Sachs, http://www.lootedart.com/R83J74278431)?
20. Does the federal government plan to stipulate the grounds on which the Commission will make decisions (by law or otherwise), for example in the realm of the burden of proof? If not, why not? If yes, will the grounds set out in the Guidelines (Handreichung) of 2001/2007 (http://www.lootedart.com/MFEU4B95212) be applied?
18 July: The government-backed German Lost Art Foundation researching the Gurlitt collection has identified a further 91 works of art that it says may have been looted from Jewish owners. The press announcement on Monday was issued only in German and provides no details of the 91 works in question. They are however apparently amongst a list of 189 works in the Salzburg collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, also only in German, and not individually identifiable. There is no review of the works available nor any summary.
CLAE's press relase welcomes the swift action taken by the Bavarian parliament on Wednesday to require the government to undertake and publish a report on works of art which “with the assistance of the management of the Staatsgemaeldesammlungen (State Paintings Collections) or the State Government” were handed back to high-ranking Nazis and their families. CLAE calls for the investigation to include clarification of the provenance of the artworks so that the rightful owners of any works that were looted can be identified and assured of restitution or compensatory justice. CLAE also calls on the Bavarian government to ensure that all documents from the State Paintings Collection and other relevant government bodies are published and made fully accessible. The release welcomes the recent commitment of the Dombauverein (Cathedral Association) Xanten to restitute the Jan van der Heyden painting confiscated from the Kraus family in 1941 in Vienna and which was returned by Bavaria in 1962 not to the Kraus family but to Henriette Hoffmann-von Schirach whose father, Hitler's official photographer, acquired it in Vienna through the good offices of his son-in-law, her husband Baldur von Schirach, Gauleiter of Vienna. She sold it the following year and it was purchased by the Dombauverein. The release sets out the history of the negotiations with the Dombauverein since the claim was submitted in July 2011 and the Kraus family's response to this new development.
To read the release, click here.
In response to only some of the questions raised by Dr Sepp Duerr, leader of the Green Party, on 29 June 2016 (reported in the BundesJustizPortal on 2 July), about the shabby behaviour of the Staatsgemaeldesammlungen (State Paintings Collections), Minister Spaenle asserted that the doors of the Collections are open to both families and researchers. He denied that the Collections had blocked access to documentation and asserted that its doors are open to those who "have a legitimate interest", without specifying what a "legitimate" interest was and who would make that decision. He denied that the Collections were not transparent but did not address Dr Duerr's question of why its records have not been handed over to the State Archives in accordance with State law where they would be freely accessible. He did not at all address the question of whether artworks had been returned to high-ranking Nazi families. To read the press release, click here.
Referring to the scandal as "absolutely shocking", Ronald Lauder called for "full transparency" on allegations Bavaria gave looted art to Nazis rather than returning the art to its rightful Jewish heirs. "Returning stolen property to the criminals guilty of the theft is nothing short of a crime itself", he said. “The very idea that the state would negotiate with the families of high-ranking Nazi officials, rather than insisting on restitution to those whose lives and property were upended during the Holocaust, is dismaying.. All efforts must be made to ensure that the families of the rightful heirs are fully compensated or receive full restitution of the property stolen from them.” To read the statement in full, click here.
In response to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung article 'Munich's Looted Art Bazaar' of 25 June and the Commission for Looted Art's Press Release of 27 June, the Bavarian State Paintings Collections (Bayerische Staatsgemaeldsammlungen, BSGS) issued a statement on 28 June attempting to refute the facts set out in both documents.The Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE) has today issued a full response showing that the BSGS statement is both inaccurate and misleading. The BSGS statement, which makes no mention of the victims of Nazi looting, and refers to provenance research as "tedious", further confirms the concerns expressed by families and the press across the world over the last few days, and underlines the need for root and branch reform in the way research and restitution are carried out in Germany, so that justice becomes fully available. CLAE's response is available here in both English and German. The BSGS statement is available also in English and German.
Ruediger Mahlo, the Claims Conference representative in Germany, made a statement about the scandal that has hit Germany, and Bavaria in particular. Referring to "this virulent dilemma", he wrote "As long as cover-ups and concealment predominate, even in high-ranking institutions such as the Bavarian State Paintings Collections, it will hardly be possible to find solutions that are satisfactory and concilliatory, let alone just and fair as defined by the Washington Principles". To read the statement in full, click here.
On 25 June CLAE published its groundbreaking original research showing that Germany returned Nazi looted artworks to the high-ranking Nazi families who stole it rather than to the families from whom this was taken, and that this remarkable scandal has been covered up by Germany for decades. At the same time, the looted families had their claims thrown out or impossible hurdles created to prevent them recovering their artworks - and this continues today. CLAE is now calling for a full accounting of these shameful transactions with the high-ranking Nazis and the way they have been hidden, as well as for three essential changes in the way Germany handles research and restitution:
1. Lists of all artworks in German collections whose provenance is unclear or problematic must be published so families have a chance of finding their missing paintings; there can be no more waiting for individual item provenance research to be done first;
2. All relevant records must be open and accessible. In particular, the records of the Bavarian Museums must be handed over to the State Archives in accordance with German law;
3. Germany must create a single, fair, transparent and accountable claims process that applies to all collections throughout Germany, at both federal and state level, so that all families can be confident their claims will be dealt with justly.
Germany already made these commitments 18 years ago at the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, but has not implemented them. CLAE says that without total transparency and accountability, the victims of the Nazi looting will continue to be denied the justice that is so long overdue.
The drawing 'Felsige Waldlandschaft mit weitem Ausblick' by Isaak Major was identified by the research of Arthur Feldmann's grandson Uri Peled Feldmann. Part of a lot of drawings from the Feldmann collection sold at Sotheby's London in 1946, the drawing was then sold to the British Rail Pension Fund at a subsequent Sotheby's sale in 1975. It was later sold to the dealer C. G. Boerner in Dusseldorf who sold it to Bremen. To read the press release issued by Bremen, click here.
In her speech Grütters reaffirmed the need for better conditions for provenance research and for restitution to be strengthened and anchored in research, teaching and training. She said that German had long known of the great losses of its Jewish fellow citizens during the Nazi era, but that it had taken Germany many years to develop an awareness of its moral obligation to undertake research and restitution. To read the full speech, click here.
29 April 2016: The German Advisory Commission has recommended the restitution of the 'Bacchanale' painting by Lovis Corinth to the heirs of Arthur Salomon of Berlin. A businessman, he and his family were persecuted by the Nazis and their property sold at a forced sale at Lepke auction house in 1936. They fled to the Netherlands, but were deported following the Occupation. The children were murdered in Auschwitz and Arthur Salomon perished in Bergen-Belsen. Only his wife survived. The painting was acquired in 1957 by the Gelsenkirchen Museum which refused to restitute, claiming the family had been properly compensated. The Commission disagreed, saying that Arthur Salomon had not received a reasonable price for the painting in 1936 and his heirs had not received adequate compensation in 1962. To read the decision, click here.
22 April 2016: A Finding Aid to the French records on art looting, research, restitution and compensation has been published by the Archives Directorate of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Direction des Archives, Ministere des affaires etrangeres et du developpement international). The records are mostly housed at the Centre des archives at La Corneuve, Paris, apart from documents relating to the French protectorates of Morocco and Tunisia which are held at the Diplomatic Archives in Nantes (Centre des archives diplomatiques de Nantes). To view the Finding Aid, click here.
20 April 2016: The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) has returned two drawings and 26 photographs to the heirs of Professor Curt Glaser. The two drawings were found in the Kupferstichkabinett as a result of provenance research and had been acquired by the Nationalgalerie Berlin at the forced sale of Professor Glaser's property in 1933. The photographs were found following a search of the Art Library to which Professor Glaser gave some 10,000 photographs before his forced emigration in 1933. The SPK in its press release stated that Professor Glaser had lost his position and emigrated in 1933, following a forced sale of his possessions. After a first restitution of works to Glaser's heirs in 2012, and in recognition of his persecution and great service to the Berlin State Museums, a fair and just solution had been agreed by which the heirs received compensation and the works remained in the SPK. To read the decision, click here.
The Limbach Commission turned down the claim by the Flechtheim heirs for the Juan Gris painting 'Violinist and Inkwell' now in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf which acquired it in 1964. The heirs had claimed that the sale of the painting in London in 1934 was due to Nazi persecution but the Commission rejected this. To read the decision, click here.
The Flechtheim lawyers have issued a press release in response to the Limbach Commission's decision on their claim for a Juan Gris painting in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf. They had withdrawn from the Commission's process at the end of February because of what they experienced as flaws in its operation and procedural irregularities, yet the Commission went ahead and issued its decision. The lawyers call for those responsible to resign and state that 'the German way of dealing with looted art is tarnished'. To read the release, click here.
Of MoMA’s evolving collection of almost 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art by over 10,000 artists, 65,000 works are now available online. The information provided includes medium, dimensions, object number, department, provenance information, etc. To search the collection, click here.
Four German libraries - the Stiftung Neue Synagoge Berlin – Centrum Judaicum Library, the Freie Universität Berlin University Library, the Potsdam University Library, and the Berlin Central and Regional Library - have come together to find a 'new way for libraries to bring justice to their mandates'. The provenance details of over 12,000 books which may be looted are included in the new site, which is well designed and in both English and German. The books were identified through the libraries' provenance research projects and came to the libraries in many different ways.
The aim of the work is the restitution of any Nazi looted books as well as to find a fair and equitable solution for the rightful owners or their heirs. The full details are entered in the shared Looted Cultural Assets database and made searchable. The site provides an alphabetical overview of all persons and institutional entities included in the database. It can also be searched by object types - books, magazine volumes, etc. or just provenance notes like dedications, autographs, stamps, etc. - all of which are displayed on the site. To visit the site, go to http://lootedculturalassets.de/. To read more about the launch, click here.
Stating that the Commission lacks "fairness, transparency and justice" and does not meet "the internationally accepted standards and requirements of similar arbitration boards, run by the state", the five lawyers from Europe and the USA call for nine '"fundamental changes" to the operation of the Commission. The changes include appointing representatives of the victims to the Commission, the possibility of unilateral submission of claims, making decisions binding on public institutions, ensuring the Commission's independence by separating it from the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (which provides its secretariat), bilingual process in German and English and equitable bye-laws. For full details of the changes demanded, see the letter here.
25 February 2016: The Getty Research Institute announced that the latest part of the archive of one of America's oldest and preeminent galleries, M. Knoedler & Co has been processed and partially digitized. Series VII of the Knoedler Gallery Archive consists of 1,579 boxes of photographs of artworks dealt by the firm, including images of works purchased, sold, and examined but not acquired.
In only his second public speech ever on art restitution, Ronald Lauder questioned the keenness of Bern to take the Gurlitt collection when it 'was probably stolen from Jewish homes by the Nazis'. The fact that only five works have so far been clearly identified as looted is, he says, likely due to the fact that most of the works in the collection are prints or drawings, which makes them hard to trace. Because of Bern's decision, he began to look at Switzerland’s role with 'lost art' and urges that term no longer be used, as it so misrepresents the thefts and 'sanitizes the crime', 'None of this art was “lost”', he says, so 'let's refer to it as stolen art'. Equally Switzerland should not continue to make the artificial distinction between art that was looted (Raubkunst) and art that was subject to a forced sale (Fluchtgut).
During the war, 'Switzerland quickly became a major center for Nazi stolen art' and justice remains to be done. Cases show 'a troubling lack of shame...these paintings should be given back to their rightful owners'. 'If people are honest, if they really want to solve this issue, if they have a conscience, then they should stop hiding behind excuses.' Reiterating the Washington Principles, he set out six requirements for fair and equitable solutions in Switzerland - and any country:
1. Stolen art must include all art losses caused by Nazi-persecution
2. Provenance research must be conducted pro-actively
3. Sufficient funds must be provided for provenance research
4. There must be complete transparency on all aspects of provenance research by means of one centralized internet database
5. One independent commission must be established to provide fair solutions
6. Auction houses must be open about looted works that they identify
To read the lecture, click here.
The final report of the Gurlitt Task Force, which began work in November 2013, has been published. 72 pages long, it is only in German, thereby continuing the Task Force's inward-looking record and failure to ensure communication to those most personally interested in its detailed findings - the families who were looted and who generally do not read German.
The Task Force's little known website - all enquiries have always been referred to the lostart.de website which made no reference to it - provides a short English language 'Fact Sheet'. This summarises the research by numbers and in an unclear way. Our attempt to clarify the findings suggests:
Of the 1,258 artworks found in Munich, 507 could be ruled out as looted because they came from German museums or the Gurlitt family; 499 were identified as possibly looted, of which 4 were definitively looted, 27 are very likely to be looted, and 344 are still unclear after some research; 252 still need to have research undertaken. Of the 186 artworks found in Salzburg, 1 is definitively looted, 45 are very likely to be looted, 1 is not, and 139 are still uncertain.
The Fact Sheet also summarises the claims made and how they were dealt with. Of the 118 claims made, 62 (53%) were 'resolved'. However, 15 of the 62 stated to be 'resolved' are also stated not to be as they are 'subject to a review procedure'. 1 artwork is stated to be looted but the family 'had not lodged a claim'. Has the Task Force contacted the family? The Fact Sheet does not say. The Fact Sheeet also does not say how many of the 5 works which are definitively looted have been returned. 56 (47%) of the 118 claims made are not resolved because the research is not completed.
The record set out in the Fact Sheet, the result of two years' work, underscores the Task Force's lack of urgency and achievement in only certainly identifying five looted works of art and not even returning all of them.
To read the Report, click here. To read the Fact Sheet, click here.
5 January 2016: The German Lost Art Foundation has announced how it will undertake the provenance research into the Gurlitt collection following the 31 December 2015 winding up of the Task Force “Schwabinger Kunstfund”, for which the Foundation had assumed responsibility on 1 April 2015. The statement is below. The details and process remain as opaque as they were under the much criticised Task Force:
'In January 2016, the German Lost Art Foundation will launch a new project titled “Gurlitt Provenance Research” which will continue the investigation of the Gurlitt art collection. Research efforts will focus on determining the provenance of works which have not yet been conclusively clarified. Of primary interest are works for which there is a suspicion that they went missing as a result of Nazi persecution or for which such claims have been made.
The project team is headed by Dr. Andrea Baresel-Brand, who is responsible for controlling, administrating and coordinating tasks, and supported by researchers who will conduct provenance research on specific works. A panel of distinguished international experts will review the project’s research findings with regard to their credibility and the appropriate use of scientific methodology. The project will draw on the personal expertise and familiarity with the Gurlitt art collection gained over the past two years. The research findings will be published in German and English following their evaluation by the review experts.
The project is financed by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and is scheduled to run for at least one year.'
Lawsuits: provides details of claims and cases ruled on or being settled in court with copies of court filings and judgements.
Research Resources: provides details of family records, tracing services, art historical resources, texts of post-war reports, and books and publications.
Web Resources: provides details of various online databases of looted paintings, results of provenance research in countries around the world, archival records available online and other research materials.
Seeking Owners of Identified Looted Property: provides lists of names of individuals whose looted property has been identified in institutions in Germany and whose heirs are being sought.
Other categories of information include Governmental Conferences and Hearings, Laws, Policies and Guidelines, Art Trade, and Press, Television, Radio and Film. To explore all these sections, click here.
The site is regularly updated with new resources and developments. To provide details of resources or cases to add to the site, please email email@example.com.