News

Kunsthistorikerin ermittelt Herkunft der Bilder im MGS - Art historian researching provenance of paintings in the Georg Schaefer Collection
Main Post 20 January 2017
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Cuban collector’s heirs settle over Wifredo Lam painting that resurfaced in Miami
The Art Newspaper 19 January 2017
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Gebhard übergibt Raub-Kunst an Frankreich - Gebhard to return looted collection to France
Rhein Neckar Fernsehen 19 January 2017
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Beutekunst der Nazis im Tübinger Stadtmuseum - Looted Art in Tubingen Municipal Museum
Hohenzollerische Zeitung 16 January 2017
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Jüdische Versteigerer im Dilemma - The dilemma of Jewish auctioneers
Neue Zuercher Zeitung 14 January 2017
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Bernsteinzimmer: Die Wiesbadenerin Provenienzforscherin Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig recherchiert über Graf zu Solms-Laubach - The Amber Room: Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig is researching Count zu Solms-Laubach
Wiesbadener Kurier 13 January 2017
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Im Minenfeld - In a minefield: an interview with Bernhard Maaz
Mercur 13 January 2017
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Frankfurt Court Allows Limitation Defence in Looted Art Case
Dispute Resolution Germany 13 January 2017
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Bücher aus vormalig jüdischem Besitz - Books from Jewish collections
Bayern Radio 12 January 2017
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The Billionaire Art Dealer Guy Wildenstein Is Cleared of Tax Fraud
New York Times 12 January 2017
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Dr. Oetker Restitutes Nazi-Looted Painting From Its Corporate Collection
Artnet 11 January 2017
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Nazi-loot panel asks Sprengel Museum to return Schmidt-Rottluff work to heirs
The Art Newspaper 10 January 2017
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Jurisdictional Law Hailed as Impetus to End Russian Art Loan Embargo that is Actually Unaffected by that Law
Art Law Report 6 January 2017
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British Library returns book stolen by the Nazis to its rightful owner
Evening Standard 6 January 2017
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Zentrum Kulturgutverluste: «Ungeheuer viel zu tun» - German Centre for Cultural Property Losses "A Lot to Do"
Sueddeutsche Zeitung 6 January 2017
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Auf der Suche nach den gestohlenen Büchern - On the search for the stolen books
Deutschlandfunk 5 January 2017
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Websites and Resources

UNESCO Database of National Cultural Heritage Laws
Provides access to national laws currently in force (with translations), import/export certificates, contact details for national authorities and addresses of official national websites dedicated to the protection of the cultural heritage.
click to visit
Dutch Museums Provenance Research
Results of 'Museum Acquisitions from 1933' project showing 41 Dutch museums are in possession of at least 139 items with 'problematic' origins.
click to visit
Swiss Looted Art Portal
Opened in June 2013, this government-run site provides details of museums' provenance research, advice on making enquiries, research and claims and links to relevant databases and archives in Switzerland and beyond.
click to visit
WGA-Files - Akten der Wieder- gutmachungsämter von Berlin - Case Records of the Berlin Restitution Offices
Digitised restitution case records of the Berlin Restitution Offices held in the Landesarchiv Berlin, consisting of the record group B Rep 025, Wiedergutmachungsämter von Berlin, containing more than 800,000 files.
click to visit
European Sales Catalogues 1930-1945 Heidelberg University
3,000 digitised auction catalogues including both German-speaking countries and the countries of occupied Europe - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland - and including every genre of cultural object, from paintings to tapestries to silver and books. Provides the entire texts of auction catalogues. Searchable by auction house, artist, work of art, etc.
click to visit
German Sales Catalogs 1930–1945 at the Getty
More than 2,000 German language sales catalogues published between 1930 and 1945 including more than 230,000 individual auction sales records for paintings, sculptures, and drawings only. Searchable by artist name and nationality, lot title, buyer or seller’s name, city in which the sale occurred, type of subject matter and other fields. Provides only individual lot details, and links to Heidelberg for the full catalogue.  
click to visit
Hermann Goering Collection
Contains 4,263 paintings, sculptures, furniture, tapestries and other art objects, purchased or acquired from confiscated property, many available for restitution today.
click to visit
International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property
The Portal provides for the first time digital access to millions of cultural property records from the National Archives of the US, the UK, Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, France and other archival sources.  
click to visit
Polish Wartime Losses
Launched on 2 February 2011 by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and including missing paintings from public and private collections by Raphael, Van Dyck, Rubens and others, reflecting the 70% of Poland's art lost to the Nazis.
click to visit
ERR Database
The Nazi records and photographs of the looting of more than 20,000 objects from Jews in France and Belgium. Click here for background details.
click to visit
Galerie Heinemann
c 43,500 paintings and c 13,000 persons and institutions associated with their acquisition or sale by the Munich art dealer Galerie Heinemann from 1890 to 1939.  Click here for the full background.
click to visit
Hungary on Trial: Herzog Collection
The history of the family, a copy of the July 2010 lawsuit filed in New York and photos of the artworks.
click to visit
'Degenerate Art' / Aktion 'Entartete Kunst' website
The fate of more than 21,000 artworks condemned as “degenerate” by the Nazis and seized from German museums in 1937.  Click here for background details. 
click to visit
Central Collecting Point Munich Database
Index cards and photographs of the 170,000 works of art collected up by the Allies at the end of the war and inventoried from 1945 till 1951.
click to visit
Hitler's Linz Collection
A searchable, illustrated catalogue of the 4,731 works of art found by the Allies in the Linz Collection, with provenance details. Click here for detailed information.
click to visit
The Austrian National Fund
Hundreds of looted objects in Austrian public collections available for restitution.
click to visit

Conferences and Events

Collected, Traded, Stolen, Lecture Series, Institut für Stadtgeschichte, Frankfurt, 23 January 2017

Lecture on the Liebighaus Sculpture Collection, Frankfurt, 1933-1945, part of the eight month lecture series. For full details, click here.

Looted art, Nazism, and Fascism, Symposium, The Italian Academy, New York, 8 February 2017

In connection with Holocaust Remembrance Day. Free and open to the public. For full details and registration, click here.

Où sont les bibliothèques spoliées par les nazis? Tentatives d'identification et de restitution, un chantier en cours - Where are the libraries looted by the Nazis? Efforts at identification and restitution, a work in progress International Conference, Paris, 23-24 March 2017

For full details of the programme, click here.

From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational & Global Perspective, Conference, Newnham College Cambridge, England, 23-24 March 2017

For further details, click here.

Accepting and Holding Objects “in Trust” – an International and Interdisciplinary Perspective, Conference, Vienna University Library, 2-4 May 2017

For further details, click here

AAMD Advanced Nazi-Era Provenance Workshop, NARA, Washington DC, 20 June 2017

With a focus on the Agnew, Colnaghi and Knoedler archives. Limited to 30 advanced researchers with places reserved for non-US participants. Application deadline 10 March 2017. For full details, click here.

Art in Law in Art Conference, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 4-6 July 2017.

An interdisciplinary conference investigating the broad themes of how law sees visual art, and how visual art sees law.  Hosted by the University of Western Australia law school. For further details, click here.

Publications

Unsere Werte? Provenienzforschung im Dialog: Leopold-Hoesch-Museum & Wallraf-Richartz-Museum
March 2017
Ed. Renate Goldmann.
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Cross-border restitution claims of art looted in armed conflicts and wars and alternatives to court litigations
July 2016
Marc-André Renold. A study commissioned and supervised by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee.
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The Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts
June 2016
Pamela M. Potter.
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Proceedings of 'Plundered, But By Whom' Conference, Prague 21-2 October 2015
April 2016
Papers given at the conference organised by the Czech Documentation Centre for Property Transfers of Cultural Assets of WWII Victims.
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Who Owns Bruno Schulz? The Changing Postwar Fortunes of Works of Art by Jewish Artists Murdered in Nazi-Occupied Poland
March 2016
Nawojka Cieślińska-Lobkowicz . About the double standard in Poland which urges other countries to undertake research and restitution but avoids this within Poland, although after the war, national institutions and private individuals often became the new owners of objects that had once belonged to private people or organizations persecuted by the Nazis. In the majority of cases, this affected Jewish individuals, Jewish communities and Jewish institutions.
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Hitlers Kunsthändler Hildebrand Gurlitt 1895 - 1956. Die Biographie
March 2016
Meike Hofmann, Nicola Kuhn.
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Rebuilding a Destroyed World: Rudolf Beres – A Jewish Art Collector in Interwar Kraków
February 2016
Agnieszka Yass-Alston .
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Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books
February 2016
Mark Glickman.
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Restitution von NS-Raubkunst
January 2016
Barbara Vogel (Hrsg.). Essays on the difficulties and failings of restitution in Germany from historical, scientific, art historical, legal and political points of view, edited by Barbara Vogel.
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Paul Graupe (1881-1953). Ein Berliner Kunsthändler zwischen Republik, Nationalsozialismus und Exil (A Berlin art dealer caught between the Republic, National Socialism and Exile)
December 2015
Patrick Golenia, Kristina Kratz-Kessemeier and Isabelle Le Masne de Chermont . Patrick Golenia, Kristina Kratz-Kessemeier and Isabelle Le Masne de Chermont write the biography of Paul Graupe, the Berlin auctioneer who lived between two extremes in Nazi Germany.
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M.N.R. (Musées Nationaux récupération): Les tableaux de la guerre : oeuvres récuperées en Allemagne après la Second Guerre mondiale
October 2015
Guillaume Kazerouni assisté de Régis Couillard et Gwenaël Prost. A catalogue of the twelve MNR works of art held at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes in France.
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The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler's Dealer and His Secret Legacy
September 2015
Catherine Hickley. In tracing the origins of the Munich hoard, the book tells of the shady dealings of the Paris art world in the 1940s and recounts political debates in modern-day Berlin, as politicians and lawyers puzzle over the inadequacies of a legal framework that to this day falls short in securing justice for the heirs of those robbed by the Nazis.
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Hitler's Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe's Treasures
September 2015
Susan Ronald. How as an "official dealer" for Hitler and Goebbels, Hildebrand Gurlitt became one of the Third Reich's most prolific art looters. Yet he stole from Hitler too, allegedly to save modern art.
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Schwarzbuch Bührle: Raubkunst für das Kunsthaus Zürich? - The Bührle Black Book: Looted Art for the Kunsthaus Zurich?
August 2015
Thomas Buomberger, Guido Magnaguagno. As the Emil Bührle collection is now to move into the planned extension at the Kunsthaus Zurich, designed by David Chipperfield, the authors ask: what are the source of the pictures, are any looted or flight assets, what is the source of the arms dealer's wealth, what was his part in the Nazi regime's art looting, and what is the artistic value of the collection.
read more
The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis
August 2015
Simon Goodman. Together with his family, Simon Goodman initiated the first Nazi looting case to be settled in the United States.  Through painstaking detective work across two continents, Simon Goodman has been able to prove that many other works belonged to his grandparents, Fritz and Louise Gutmann, and has successfully secured their return.
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Witnessing the Robbing of the Jews A Photographic Album, Paris, 1940-1944
August 2015
Sarah Gensburger. The book tells how the vast enterprise of plunder was implemented in the streets of Paris by analyzing images from an album of photographs found in the Federal Archives of Koblenz, brought from Paris in 1945 and catalogued by the staff of the Munich Central Collecting Point. Beyond bearing witness to the petty acts of larceny, these images provide crucial information on how the Germans saw their work.
read more
Aviso 2015 Raubkunst und Restitution at the Bayerische Staatsgemälde-sammlungen
July 2015
Bernhard Maaz, Alfred Grimm, Meike Hopp, Stephan Klingen, Andreas Strobl, Astrid Pellengahr, Robert Bierschneider. To read the 2015 report on research and restitution at the Bavarian State Paintings Collections Munich, click here.
read more
Alfred Flechtheim. Raubkunst und Restitution (Alfred Flechtheim: Plundered Art and its Restitution)
May 2015
Bambi, Andrea; Drecoll, Axel (eds).
read more

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 the most recent international resources, click here and also see below, Online Resources and Case News.

To subscribe to our looted art newsletter, click here.

NEW

16 January 2016: German Advisory Commission adopts and publishes Rules of Procedure

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.

10 January 2017: German Advisory Commission recommends the Sprengel Museum return a Schmidt-Rotluff painting to the heirs of Max Ruedenberg

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.

10 January 2017: Rudolf-August Oetker Collection to return painting by Hans Thoma to the family of Hedwig Ullmann

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.

French libraries seized by the ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg)

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

7 December 2016: German Advisory Commission issues recommendation in case of violin claimed by the heirs of Felix Hildesheimer, its first case involving a private owner

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.

5 December 2016: Flechtheim heirs file suit in USA for recovery of eight paintings in Bavaria

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.

Documentary: The Claim: The Search for Stolen Art from WWII

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.

1 December 2016: Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) returns sculpture 'Susanna' by Reinhold Begas to the heirs of Felicia Lachmann-Mosse

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.

IFAR's Online Database now provides digital links to additional resources for over 3,800 published catalogues raisonnés

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.

25 November 2016: German Culture Ministry provides €4m for a research programme on the Nazi past of Germany Ministries and central state authorities

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.

26 October 2016: Kunstsammlung Rudolf-August Oetker GmbH audits art collection

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.

12 October 2016: Report by Bavarian Culture Minister on Returns of Artworks to Nazi Families

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.

In Memoriam – Norman Palmer QC CBE

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

15 July 2016: Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE) Press Release: Bavaria to investigate return of art to high-ranking Nazi families – Dombauverein commits to restitution of Kraus family painting

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.

1 July 2016: Statement of Bavarian Culture Minister on the Staatsgemaeldesammlungen (State Paintings Collections)

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.

30 June 2016: World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder's Statement on Scandal in Bavaria

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.

28 June 2016: Claims Conference Statement on Scandal in Bavaria

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.

28 June 2016: Commission for Looted Art in Europe (CLAE) calls for three fundamental changes in the way Germany handles research and restitution

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.


To read CLAE's press release about its research, click here. To read the full story published over three pages in Sueddeutsche Zeitung in English or German, click here.

13 June 2016: Speech by Monika Grütters in Bonn at Art, Provenance and Law conference

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.

Finding Aid to the French government archival records on art looting in France during the Occupation, research, restitution and compensation

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.

17 March 2016 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) puts 65,000 works of modern art online

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.

10 March 2016: Launch of Looted Cultural Assets website at http://lootedculturalassets.de

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.

Transcript of the lecture delivered by World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder at the Kunsthaus Zürich on 2 February 2016.

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.

Online Resources and Case News

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 info@lootedart.com.

German-language Exile Press 1933-1945 Online

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.

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