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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.
31 May 2017: The cultural committee of the German Bundestag discussed the further development of the Advisory Commission (formerly known as the Limbach Commission) in a closed expert session. The experts heard were Imke Gielen of the law firm von Trott zu Solz Lammek, Rüdiger Mahlo of the Jewish Claims Conference, Reinhard Rürup of the Advisory Commission, Tilmann von Stockhausen of the German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund) and lawyer Markus Stötzel as well as cultural minister Monika Grütters. The "guiding questions“ indicate a broad range of interest by the committee which had been sidelined by Grütters during the recent deliberations and announced changes of the way the Advisory Commission is to work in the future. Questions relate i.a. to the general assessment of the recent changes, in particular regarding transparency and the composition of the Commission. The hearing comes at a time when Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, has critizised the changes of last autumn as not going far enough. In particular he called it a flaw that the Commission can only act if is called upon by both sides of a dispute, a rule that Grütters says had proven its worth. The questions relating to transparency apprently relate to a recent legal dispute in which the Advisory Commission had denied access to its files amid allegations of a lack of impartiality (Decision by Oberverwaltungsgericht Magdeburg, 3 L 115/15 of March 23, 2017). To read the announcement of the hearing, click here.
The New York International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) has expanded its unique and free provenance resources on their website at www.ifar.org. It now includes sections on:
For full details, click here.
An international conference, organised by the UK Government and the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel and sponsored by the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, is aimed at increasing efforts to return Nazi-looted art to its original owners.
The conference is the first of its kind in five years and will be held at the National Gallery in London on 12 September.
The conference will strengthen partnerships, build greater cooperation on spoliation and examine how the process of returning stolen artworks can be accelerated.
For further details and to register an interest in attending, click here.
The annual Rapport du groupe de travail sur les provenances d’oeuvres récupérées après la seconde guerre mondiale submitted to the French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay in March has now been published. The working group was set up in March 2013 to look into the provenance of the ca 2,000 MNR works of art in the possession of the French state since the late 1940s with the purpose of restitution to the rightful owners. Research sources include catalogues of sales held at INHA, archival records, marks and inscriptions on the MNR works and previous research. In the course of the current year, 26 items were found to be looted and their owners identified; 46 items were found not to be looted; detailed information was found on 41 objects; and research was inconclusive on 138 objects. To read the full report and see details of the works researched, click here.
The U.S. District Court ruled on 31 March against the motion by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Prussian Cultural Property Foundation to dismiss the suit brought against them by the claimants in the Guelph Treasure case on several grounds including that they are entitled to sovereign immunity. The Court ruled that the claims can proceed and can be considered a taking of property in violation of international law. To read the ruling, click here.
Following publication of an article in February by Belgian journalist Geert Sels revealing that 78 looted works of art returned to Belgium after the war remain unpublished, the Flemish Culture Minister was chellenged in the Flemish Parliament to investigate and publish all looted works of art in public ownership. Minister Gatz said he had asked his administration to assess options and that a central website for the whole of Belgium was the best option. To read the parliamentary questions and answers, click here.
Artsy write that over the course of World War II, the Nazi party stole hundreds of thousands of works of art. Today, more than seven decades after the end of the war, there are still some 100,000 artworks that are missing. In this episode, they discuss the restitution of Nazi-looted art—that is, the ways in which these works are returned (or, in some cases, not returned) to the heirs of the original owners. To listen click here.
Copies of lawsuits filed in various cases, stages and jurisdictions are provided on this site. Cases with recent filings include the claim on 3 March 2017 by the Lewenstein heirs for the Kandinsky painting owned by Munich's Bavarian Landesbank, the claim by the heirs of Alice Leffmann for the Picasso painting 'The Actor' in the Metropolitan Museum NY, the claim for the Guelph Treasure against the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Federal Republic of Germany, and the claim by the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum for a Schiele drawing owned by Richard Nagy. To view the filings, click here.
The 78 paintings were returned to Belgium after the war but Belgium has never officially published their identities nor undertaken full research in order to return them to their rightful owners. Journalist Geert Sels has now made them available as a list with the location of each and with reference to the names of possible owners. 50 of the 78 paintings have a provenance that is not complete. The dossier includes six articles, several case studies and many illustrations.
As a result of Geert Sels's work, a government working group is to convene this month.
The dossier was published last week in the Belgian art magazine Openbaar Kunstbezit Vlaanderen and is available here as a searchable pdf. The list of the paintings is on p.40. Click here to view. .
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.
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.
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.
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.