Spoliation Advisory Panel
The Spoliation Advisory Panel, first chaired by Sir David Hirst and now by Sir Donnell Deeny, was established in February 2000 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as an advisory non-departmental public body (NDPB) to help resolve claims from people or their heirs who lost cultural property during the Nazi era which is now held in UK national collections.
The Panel is appointed by the Secretary of State. It considers both legal and non-legal obligations, such as the moral strength of the claimant’s case, and whether any moral obligation rests on the holding institution.
Its proceedings are an alternative to litigation, and its recommendations are not legally binding on any parties. However, if a claimant accepts the recommendation of the Panel, and the recommendation is implemented, the claimant is expected to accept this as full and final settlement of the claim.
On 12 April 2010 the Panel was dissolved as an advisory NDPB and reconstituted as a group of expert advisers which continues under the name 'Spoliation Advisory Panel'. Sir David Hirst, the first chairman, retired, and Sir Donnell Deeny replaced him as chairman, the Panel's membership otherwise remaining as before. The Panel remains the advisory body designated by the Secretary of State under Section 3 of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009.
The Constitution, Terms of Reference, Rules of Procedure, Functions and Procedures of the Secretariat and Legal Advisers, and list of current members are set out below, together with copies of all reports published by the Panel.
16 September 2015: Spoliation Panel Rejects Claim by Oppenheimer heirs to Renoir painting in Bristol Art Gallery. The Panel considered a claim on behalf of Margraf & Co GmbH, a company liquidated by the Nazis in the late 1930s, for an oil painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir entitled Cros de Cagnes, Mer, Montagnes, now in the possession of Bristol City Council.
The Margraf group of companies was owned by Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer. The Panel concluded that whilst the loss of the Painting amounted to a forced sale, it was not as a result of Nazi persecution but rather as a direct result of Margraf’s bankers’ legitimate exercise of their rights over the painting and other art works in order to realise a significant debt which the Margraf group had accrued and which had its origins prior to the Nazis coming to power. The circumstances in which Margraf lost possession of the painting came about as a result of its indebtedness to its bankers, compounded by the precarious financial position in which the Oppenheimers found themselves following inheritance taxes lawfully imposed upon them in 1929.
The Panel’s conclusion was therefore that Margraf’s claim to the painting was weak and that the claim should be rejected. The Panel recommended that the Oppenheimers’ connection with the painting should be incorporated into its narrative history when it is displayed.
To read the report, click here.
The Panel found the following: No link had been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export licence. The work was still being described as looted in an official Hungarian government register compiled between 1946 and 1948. Hatvany was known to be buying works back at this time and there is no record of him selling other works in 1946. The Panel concluded "that on the balance of probabilities he had not recovered it after it was looted and that the export licence was being sought by persons who were either ignorant of its pre-1944 provenance or, knowing it, were sufficiently confident that the work would not in all likelihood be identified as formerly part of the Hatvany collection by the procedures then in force in the Museum of Fine Art in Budapest. Therefore, the Panel concludes that there is nothing in the new material which would lead it to reach a different conclusion and recommendation from its original Report of 26 March 2014".
To read the new report, click here.
16 October 2014: Report in respect of a silver-gilt Renaissance Salt in the possession of the Ashmolean Museum. To read the report, click here. The Salt also derive from the forced sale of the Budge collection and the Panel recommends it be restituted.Following publication of the report, the Ashmolean issued a statement on 16 October 2014, available here. The statement said "the salt was part of a 2012 bequest of a 500 piece collection put together by Michael Wellby, a member of a family prominent in the silver trade. Wellby opened his own shop in Grafton Street in the 1960s, specializing in German silver of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which he became an acknowledged expert. The salt was acquired in or shortly after 1994 for his personal collection. As a result of the Ashmolean's provenance research, led by Professor Timothy Wilson, Keeper of the Department of Western Art, the rightful owner of the salt was identified and contacted through the Commission for Looted Art. The ensuing claim for restitution was then referred to the Spoliation Advisory Panel for a ruling. The Panel analyzed the circumstances of the sale and concluded that it was a direct result of anti-Semitic intervention by the Nazi authorities. The Panel recommends that the Museum return the salt to the representatives of the Budge family. The Museum will therefore return the salt to the representatives of the Budge family."
12 June 2014: Report in respect of a painted wooden tablet, the Biccherna Panel, now in the possession of the British Library. The Panel’s opinion was that the just and fair resolution of the claim is the restitution of the Biccherna Panel by the British Library to the Claimants in accordance with the provisions of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009. The Panel concluded that the Biccherna Panel formed part of an inventory of a Munich art gallery of which the Claimants are the surviving heirs and that the sale of the Gallery’s contents in 1936 by the aryanised Berlin auction house of Paul Graupe in response to an extortionate tax demand constituted a forced sale. To read the report, click here.
10 June 2014: Report in respect of three Meissen figures in the possession of the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Panel found that the Meissen figures derived from the Budge collection which was subjected to a forced sale in Berlin in 1937 and that her family was deprived of the proceeds of the sale.The Panel recommended that the Victoria and Albert Museum should offer to return the figures to the Estate of Mrs Budge given the circumstances of their loss. However, given that Mrs Budge expressed a wish that, following her death, some or all of her art collection should go to museums in Germany or abroad, the Panel has invited the Executor of the Estate to consider whether it would be appropriate for one of the Meissen figures to remain in the possession of the Museum. To read the report, click here.
26 March 2014: Report in respect of an oil painting by John Constable, 'Beaching a boat, Brighton', in the possession of the Tate gallery. The Panel found that the moral strength of the claimants' case and the moral obligation on the Tate warranted the restitution of the painting, concluding that it was likely that the painting was in the ownership of a Hungarian art collector in 1944 at the time when the Germans invaded Hungary and that it was taken in the course of antisemitic persecution of the collector and his family by the German occupying forces. The Panel was critical of the Tate for failing in its moral obligation to have investigated the painting's provenance and for having withheld information from the claimants, To read the report, click here.
7 March 2012: The Panel issued an opinion in respect of fourteen clocks and watches now in the posession of the British Museum The Panel’s opinion was that the moral strength of the claim was insufficiently strong to warrant a return of the timepieces or that an ex-gratia payment be made to the claimants. The Panel did find, however, that the sale of the timepieces at auction at Christies in 1939 amounted to a forced sale, albeit at the lower end of any scale of gravity for such sales. Furthermore, expert advice provided to the Panel revealed that the prices obtained at the auction were fair. The Panel recommended that, whenever one or more of the timepieces is on display at the British Museum, it should be accompanied by a description of the history and provenance of the object(s) during and since the Nazi era, with special reference to the claimants’ interest therein.To read the Report, click here.
15 December 2010: The Panel issued its report on the claim from the heirs of Herbert Gutmann of Berlin for oil sketch by Sir Peter Paul Rubens 'The Coronation of the Virgin' by Rubens now in the Courtauld Collection. To read the Panel's report and ruling, click here. The Panel rejected the claim on the grounds that the sale of the painting in 1934 was not due to Nazi persecution but arose from the calling in of debts pre-dating the Nazi seizure of power in Germany.
15 September 2010: The Panel issued a revised report on the case of a 12th century Missal from the Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento, and reissued its recommendation that the Missal be restituted to Italy. The recommendation was accepted by the Culture Minister and the British Library has agreed to implement it. The Missal will be the first item to be restituted from the UK under the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009.
The Panel concluded in an earlier Report of 23 March 2005 that it was likely that the Missal had been looted amongst the scenes of chaos during the Allied bombing of Benevento in 1943 and was then sold by a Naples book seller to a British soldier in 1944. The Missal was acquired by the British Museum in 1947 and transferred to the British Library in 1973. In 2005 the Panel recognised that the British Library Act 1972 prevented the British Library from removing the Missal from its collection and so it recommended a loan to Benevento and that consideration should be given to changing the law to allow the restitution of cultural objects lost during the Nazi era.
Following the passing of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act in December 2009, which allows 17 national collections to return items lost during the Nazi era, where this is recommended by the Spoliation Advisory Panel and Ministers agree, the claim was referred back to the Panel. The Panel's Report published today, 15 September 2010, and available here, has been endorsed by Ministers and recommends the restitution of the Missal to Benevento. The British Library has agreed to implement the recommendation.
"We should all be incredibly grateful that the Missal has benefited from the highest possible standards of care during its time at the British Library," said Ed Vaizey, UK Culture Minister. "The city of Benevento will once again be custodian of this unique and culturally valuable manuscript, bringing to a close another chapter in its fascinating history."
To read the government news story, click here. To read the summary of the Panel's report on the government website, click here.
Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, said:"The British Library accepted the Spoliation Advisory Panel's recommendations in 2005 and, following today's announcement, we are now in discussions with the Chapter Library in Benevento to make arrangements for the return of the Missal."
To read the British Library's press release, click here.
18 January 2001: The first case heard by the Panel regarded a compensation claim for Jan Griffier the Elder's View of Hampton Court Palace (1710) which was acquired by the Tate Gallery in 1961. The Panel upheld the claim and awarded an ex gratia payment to the claimant. The report of the Panel was published on 18 January 2001 and is available here.
The Panel has issued reports on seven further cases since 2000:
SAP report 24 November 2004; A report on a Chardin still life painting in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow from a Munich art dealership.
SAP report 23 March 2005: A report on a 12th century Missal in the British Library taken from the Metropolitan Chapter Library of the Cathedral City of Benevento.
SAP report 1 March 2006: A report on A Portrait of a Young Girl in a Bow Window by Nikolaus Alexander Mair von Landshut in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford formerly in the collection of Jakob Goldschmidt.
SAP report 27 April 2006: A report on four Old Master drawings in the British Museum from the Arthur Feldmann collection.
SAP report 24 January 2007: A report on Three drawings in the Courtauld Institute of Art also from the Arthur Feldmann collection.
SAP report 28 November 2007: A report on three paintings by Rubens in the Courtauld Institute of Art from the Franz Koenigs collection,
SAP report 11 June 2008: A report on two pieces of porcelain in the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum from the Rothberger collection.
SAP report 24 June 2009: A report on Eight drawings in the Courtauld Institute of Art from the collection of Curt Glaser.
Summary List of Spoliation Advisory Panel Reports (linking to the government website 2014)
2010: Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of a renewed claim by the Metropolitan Chapter of Benevento for the return of the ‘Beneventan Missal’ now in the possession of the British Library
2009 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of 8 drawings now in the possession of the Samuel Courtauld Trust
2008 – Spoliation Advisory Panel rules that two fine pieces of porcelain - acquired in good faith by the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum - were looted during the Nazi era
2007 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of three Rubens Paintings now in the possession of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London
2007 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in Respect of three Drawings now in the Possession of the Courtauld Institute of Art
2006 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of four drawings now in the possession of the British Museum
2006 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of a painting held by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford
2005 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of a 12th century manuscript now in the possession of the British Library
2004 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of a painting now in possession of Glasgow City Council
2001 – Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of a painting now in the possession of the Tate Gallery
Constitution and Terms of Reference
Members of the Panel
1. The members of the Spoliation Advisory Panel ("the Panel") will be appointed by the Secretary of State on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit. The Secretary of State shall appoint one member as Chairman of the Panel.
Resources for the Panel
2. The Secretary of State will make available such resources as he considers necessary to enable the Panel to carry out its functions, including administrative support provided by a Secretariat ("the Secretariat").
Functions of the Panel
3. The task of the Panel is to consider claims from anyone (or from any one or more of their heirs), who lost possession of a cultural object ("the object") during the Nazi era (1933 - 1945), where such object is now in the possession of a UK national collection or in the possession of another UK museum or gallery established for the public benefit ("the institution"). The Panel shall advise the claimant and the institution on what would be appropriate action to take in response to such a claim. The Panel shall also be available to advise about any claim for an item in a private collection at the joint request of the claimant and the owner.
4. In any case where the Panel considers it appropriate, it may also advise the Secretary of State
(a) on what action should be taken in relation to general issues raised by the claim, and/or
(b) where it considers that the circumstances of the particular claim warrant it, on what action should be taken in relation to that claim.
5. (a) In exercising its functions, while the Panel will consider legal issues relating to title to the object (see paragraph 7(d) and (f)), it will not be the function of the Panel to determine legal rights, for example as to title;
(b) The Panel's proceedings are an alternative to litigation, not a process of litigation. The Panel will therefore take into account non-legal obligations, such as the moral strength of the claimant's case (paragraph 7(e)) and whether any moral obligation rests on the institution (paragraph 7(g));
(c) Any recommendation made by the Panel is not intended to be legally binding on the claimant, the institution or the Secretary of State;
(d) If the claimant accepts the recommendation of the Panel and that recommendation is implemented, the claimant is expected to accept the implementation in full and final settlement of his claim.
Performance of the Panel's functions
6. In performing the functions set out in paragraphs 3 and 4, the Panel's paramount purpose shall be to achieve a solution which is fair and just both to the claimant and to the institution.
7. For this purpose the Panel shall:-
(a) make such factual and legal inquiries, (including the seeking of advice about legal matters, about cultural objects and about valuation of such objects) as the Panel consider appropriate to assess each claim as comprehensively as possible;
(b) assess all information and material submitted by or on behalf of the claimant and the institution or any other person, or otherwise provided or known to the Panel;
(c) examine and determine the circumstances in which the claimant was deprived of the object, whether by theft, forced sale, sale at an undervalue, or otherwise;
(d) evaluate, on the balance of probability, the validity of the claimant's original title to the object, recognising the difficulties of proving such title after the destruction of the Second World War and the Holocaust and the duration of the period which has elapsed since the claimant lost possession of the object;
(e) give due weight to the moral strength of the claimant's case;
(f) evaluate, on the balance of probability, the validity of the institution's title to the object;
(g) consider whether any moral obligation rests on the institution taking into account in particular the circumstances of its acquisition of the object, and its knowledge at that juncture of the object's provenance;
(h) take account of any relevant statutory provisions, including stipulations as to the institution's powers and duties, including any restrictions on its power of disposal;
(i) take account of the terms of any trust instrument regulating the powers and duties of the trustees of the institution, and give appropriate weight to their fiduciary duties;
(j) where applicable, assess the current market value of the object, or its value at any other appropriate time, and shall also take into account any other relevant circumstance affecting compensation, including the value of any potential claim by the institution against a third party;
(k) formulate and submit to the claimant and to the institution its advice in a written report, giving reasons, and supply a copy of the report to the Secretary of State, and (l) formulate and submit to the Secretary of State any advice pursuant to paragraph 4 in a written report, giving reasons, and supply a copy of the report to the claimant and the institution.
Scope of Advice
8. If the Panel upholds the claim in principle, it may recommend either:
(a) the return of the object to the claimant, or
(b) the payment of compensation to the claimant, the amount being in the discretion of the Panel having regard to all relevant circumstances including the current market value, but not tied to that current market value, or
(c) an ex gratia payment to the claimant, and
(d) in the case of (b) or (c) above, the display alongside the object of an account of its history and provenance during and since the Nazi era, with special reference to the claimant's interest therein; and
(e) that negotiations should be conducted with the successful claimant in order to implement such a recommendation as expeditiously as possible.
9. When advising the Secretary of State under paragraph 4(a) and/or (b), the Panel shall be free to recommend any action which they consider appropriate, and in particular may, under paragraph 4(a), direct the attention of the Secretary of State to the need for legislation to alter the powers and duties of any institution.
Rules of Procedure
Procedure for making and responding to a claim
1. Any claimant who wishes the Panel to consider his or her claim shall deliver such claim in writing to the Panel ("the Claimant's statement of case") including copies of all witness statements and/or documentary evidence relied upon. The Secretariat shall forthwith send a copy of the Claimant's statement of case to the institution concerned together with the accompanying witness statements and documents.
2. The Institution shall deliver its reply in writing to the Panel ("the Institution's statement of case") including copies of all witness statements and/or documentary evidence relied upon, within 6 weeks of its receipt of the Claimant's case. The Secretariat shall forthwith send a copy of the Institution's statement of case to the Claimant, together with the accompanying witness statements and documents.
3. The Claimant and Institution may, but only subject to the leave of the Chairman:-
(a) deliver supplementary written statements of case, and/or copies of further witness statements and/or documentary evidence to the Panel;
(b) request further particulars of the opposite party's statement of case and where such leave is granted, may deliver the additional material to the Panel for despatch by the Panel's Secretariat to the opposite party, subject to any time limits prescribed by the Chairman.
4. The Panel may of its own motion require clarification of either party's statement of case, and/or the provision of supplementary witness statements, or documents (if available) and/or authentication of documents. The Panel may also direct the swearing of affidavits, verifying witness statements and/or authenticating any documents. Any material furnished under this rule shall be circulated to all parties.
Procedures for disposal of claims
5. The Panel may, in its discretion after consultation with the parties:-
(a) dispose of the case, on the basis of written material furnished by the parties, or
(b) direct an oral hearing, for which the quorum shall be 5 members of the Panel, including the Chairman.
6. Where the Panel directs an oral hearing, the Panel shall notify the parties. Such notification shall:
(a) propose a date for the hearing, which will normally be not less than 6 weeks subsequently, and a location for it which will normally be London;
(b) indicate that any request for a different date or location must be made in writing to the Panel within such reasonable time as the Panel may specify in the notification;
(c) specify the witnesses from whom the Panel wish to hear oral evidence, and/or the issues on which the Panel wish to hear oral submissions, and
(d) ask what languages are spoken by any claimant and by any witness giving oral evidence, and direct where appropriate the attendance of an interpreter.
7. The hearings shall be limited to one day for the Claimant and the Institution respectively, subject to an extension only if the Chairman grants leave, which must be sought in writing from him not less than 3 weeks before the hearing date.
8. Hearings will normally be conducted in private, and in English, and witnesses will normally be required to testify under oath.
9. Any party wishing to cross-examine an opposite party's witness must apply in writing to the Chairman for leave so to do not less than 3 weeks before the hearing date.
10. The Claimant and the Institution may be represented or assisted at a hearing, at their own expense, by any person or persons of their choice up to a maximum of 5, including counsel, solicitors, or representatives of a voluntary organisation.
11. Any matters of procedure not prescribed by these rules shall be decided by the Chairman, who shall also have the power to extend or abridge the time limits laid down in these rules.
12. All submissions and correspondence to the Panel should be sent to:
The Spoliation Advisory Panel Secretariat
Cultural Property Unit
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Tel: +44 (0)20 7211 6158
Functions and Procedures of the Secretariat and Legal Advisers
Click here to view.
Membership of the Panel
Sir Donnell Deeny QC, Member of Northern Ireland Bar Counsel (Chair)
Tony Baumgartner, Partner in a leading London law firm and Recorder of the Crown Court
Professor Sir Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University
Sir Terry Heiser, Former Permanent Secretary at the DOE
Professor Peter Jones, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies In the Humanities, University of Edinburgh and Director of the Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Martin Levy, Chairman of H Blairman and Sons Ltd, Fine Art Dealers
Peter Oppenheimer, President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Professor Norman Palmer, CBE, QC, Barrister and leading expert in cultural property law
Anna Southall Director of National Museums and Galleries of Wales
Professor Liba Taub, Director of the Whipple Museum, University of Cambridge; Fellow and Tutor, Newnham College.
Baroness Warnock, Independent Life Peer
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport
https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/spoliation-advisory-panel#review-of-the-spoliation-advisory-panel, accessed 9 January 2015 and 4 February 2015
Earlier: http://www.culture.gov.uk/3296.aspx, accessed 10 September 2008 and http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/cultural_property/3296.aspx accessed November 2012.