Websites and Resources
Conferences and Events
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.
On 13 December 2016, after much national and international prompting, and without publicity, the German Advisory Commission published, in German only, its new Rules of Procedure. Until then, it had operated without any, which meant there has been little clarity on the process and grounds for decision-making. Over a month later, and again without alerting the public, an English language version of the Rules of Procedure has been published. Both documents state they date to 2 November 2016. The Rules have nine sections: the Commission's mandate, composition, how to lodge a request, the preliminary procedure, what to expect at a hearing, the criteria for decision-making and recommendations, costs, expert opinions, and a final section on the adoption of the Rules. To read them in English, click here. To read them in German, click here.
The Commission stated that the Sprengel Museum's own records showed clearly that Marsh Landscape With Red Windmill, a 1922 watercolour by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, had belonged to Max Ruedenberg who had been forced to sell it in 1939. It had been acquired in the same year by Bernhard Sprengel and recorded by his wife Margrit as having been previously owned by the Ruedenberg family, with whom the Sprengels were acquainted. Max Ruedenberg was, like the Sprengels, a collector, businessman and member of the Hanover Kestner Gesellschaft, dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art and artists in Germany. He and his wife were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 where they perished. The claim by their elderly grandchildren was first submitted in February 2012, but the Museum denied the evidence of its own documents and stated there was no proof of the painting's ownership by Max Ruedenberg. To read the recommendation, only available in German, click here.
The Collection's press release states that the painting known as Frühling im Gebirge/Kinderreigen (Springtime in the mountains) by Hans Thoma was acquired by Oetker at public auction in 1954 and has been in the German Kunstsammlung Oetker (Oetker Collection) ever since. Recently, it was identified by the Collection's provenance researcher as having been sold by Hedwig Ullmann in Germany in 1938.
Albert (1862–1912) and Hedwig Ullmann (1872–1945) were well- known Jewish art collectors, who acquired the Villa Gerlach in Frankfurt towards the end of the 19th century. As part of that purchase, the Ullmanns also became the owners of a series of wall panel paintings depicting the four seasons, which the previous owner had commissioned Hans Thoma to create. Mrs Ullmann emigrated from Germany in 1938 in the wake of Nazi persecution of the Jews and was forced to sell the painting as she emigrated.
The Kunstsammlung contacted, of its own initiative, the representative of the heirs who did not know the whereabouts of the painting. The Kunstsammlung advised them that the painting was in its possession and that it wished to return it to them on moral grounds. The heirs have gratefully accepted. The Board of the Kunstsammlung said it was delighted that the Ullmann family is being reunited with the painting. The attorney representing the heirs, David J. Rowland, said: “Our clients want to acknowledge the commendable work of the Kunstsammlung Oetker. This is an outstanding example of a private collection doing the right thing regarding Nazi looted art and sets a standard of best practice in this field".
To read the press release issued by the Oetker Collection, click here.
A list of French libraries seized by the ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg), the Nazi looting agency in France, has been compiled by Dr Patricia Kennedy Grimsted in order to help in the search for looted property. The material includes a table of owners and their property, original source documents and an introductory essay by Dr Grimsted. It is hosted by the website of the Commission française des archives juives (CFAJ) and the project was funded by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. To visit the French site, which will provide an English version in January, click here.
The 1706 Guarneri violin was acquired by the music dealer Felix Hildesheimer of Speyer in January 1938. His business had been boycotted since 1933 and in 1937 he was forced by the Nazis to sell it and give up his house. In August 1939 he committed suicide and in 1940 his wife was deported and her property taken by the Gestapo. Their two daughters were able to flee and reach the USA and Australia respectively. The violin reappeared in 1974 when it was purchased in good faith from the Cologne violin maker Ludwig Höfer by violinist Sophie Hagemann. After her death in 2010, it became the property of the Franz Hofmann and Sophie Hagemann Foundation which undertook provenance research and publicly sought out both further information on provenance and the Hildesheimer family. The Foundation could not clarify the history with certainty and doubted the claim, but both parties sought an amicable and equitable resolution.
The Advisory Commission found it very plausible that the violin had been lost due to persecution. The Foundation stated it would like to have the violin repaired and be lent to the best students of the Nuremberg Academy of Music. These musicians would be required to give concerts in Speyer with a suitable programme of music to commemorate the history of the Hildesheimer family and their musical activities. Given this proposal, the Advisory Commission recommended that a fair solution would be that the violin, whose market value is ca. €150,000 with repair costs of ca. €50,000 remain in the Foundation and the Foundation pay €100,000 to the heirs. To read the recommendation, the first by the Commission involving a private owner, click here for the German text and here for the English.
The lawsuit filed against the Bavarian State Paintings Collections and the Free State of Bavaria for the restitution of eight paintings alleges that the paintings were lost to Flechtheim "due to the policy of racial persecution and genocide". According to the suit, the defendants claim to have valid title to a number of the paintings via a donor, Günther Franke who, they say, bought the paintings in 1932, but "for which there is no proof". The plaintiffs assert that, "On the contrary, Flechtheim was still the owner of the Paintings when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party seized power on January 30, 1933 and it was only the Nazi-induced destruction of his livelihood and subsequent escape from Germany that allowed Franke to possess these Paintings much later before conveying them to the Defendants". To read the suit in full, click here.
A 90 minute documentary in Dutch, directed by Ditteke Mensink, was screened on NPO, the Dutch television channel, on 5 December. The film focuses on two cases brought to the Dutch Restitutions Committee and follows the Committee's deliberations and two claimants. Lion Tokkie is singlehandedly making a claim for an Isaac Israels' painting 'Children on the beach', which now hangs in a museum in Arnhem. But how can he prove that it was this particular version that hung above his grandfather's sideboard, when Israel painted several beach scenes and Lion has to rely on the childhood memories of his father? Clare Hamburger fled as a child to Switzerland where she still lives. She is hoping to recover two 17th century portraits hanging in the town of Roosendaal. To see the English language trailer, click here. To see the film, click here.
The Mosse art collection was seized by the Nazis after the family fled Germany to France in 1933 and sold at the Rudolf Lepke and Union auction houses in 1934. In 2015 the Berlin museums returned eight works of art to the Mosse family following research identifying them as Jewish losses, but the sculpture was only identified by the Mosse heirs. The sculpture will initially remain on loan to the Berlin State Museums where it is currently on display at the Alte Nationalgalerie. A major goal of the Mosse restitution project is the promotion of German-American and German-Jewish relations. To read the SPK's press release, click here.
28 November 2016: Launched in 2008, along with their Art Law & Cultural Property Database, the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) Catalogues Raisonnés Database features annotated bibliographic information and links to additional resources regarding over 3,800 published catalogues raisonnés and approximately 350 catalogues-in-preparation concerning 2,580 artists. Both completed publications and those in preparation can be searched separately or together by the author’s name, or the artist’s name, place of birth or death, or period of activity. New features and functionality just announced include external links to the complete or partial digitized text of published catalogues raisonnés available on Google Books, HathiTrust, Internet Archive, and other online platforms. Additionally, Database users will now be able to link to WorldCat to locate the library nearest to them that holds a print copy of a particular catalogue. IFAR’s comprehensive resource—the only one of its kind—is regularly updated and available free of charge at www.ifar.org.
The project, announced by Minister Monika Grütters, was proposed by a study commissioned by the Institute for Contemporary History and the Centre for Research into Contemporary History in February this year. The research programme is designed to provide a new cross-departmental approach that allows systemic questions and perspectives that are not limited to a single institution. The programme is also open for comparative research - for example, the inclusion of the GDR authorities - and will be under the auspices of the German Federal Archives. The Ministry of Culture will provide total funding of €4 million euros for 2017-2020. Due to the cross-departmental relevance of the Federal Chancellery, its history will be researched through an independent programme which will cost €1 million. To read the press release, click here.
The collection of the late billionaire Rudolf August Oetker, a former member of the Waffen-SS, is being thoroughly researched 'to assess whether any audited artwork belonged to a person persecuted for reasons of race, reli-gion, nationality, ideology or political opposition to National Socialism who was wrongfully deprived of such an artwork', according to a statement from the Board. The collection includes a wide range of artworks including paintings, silver and porcelain. The research will initially focus on the collection of paintings which numbers several hundred. So far, four artworks have been identified as 'candidates for restitution or the payment of financial compensation' and negotations with the rightful owners are ongoing. To read the statement, click here. To read an article about the collection which raised issues of provenance in July, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The German National Library Frankfurt and Leipzig, through its German Exile Archive 1933-45 led by Dr Sylvia Asmus, has digitised exile newspapers and journals held by the Library and others. The press publications range from The Jewish Voice of the Far East and others in Shanghai to Das Andere Deutschland in Buenos Aires, and continue, with Aufbau in New York, to 1950. To access full details and the journals themselves, go to http://www.dnb.de/EN/DEA/Kataloge/Exilpresse/exilpresseDigital.html. The site allows searches by authors or keywords, or more advanced searches.