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Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War Sunday 14 and Monday 15 September 2008

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This conference was organised by Isabelle le Masne de Chermont and Laurence Sigal-Klagsbald, in conjunction with the exhibition À qui appartenaient ces tableaux? at the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme Paris which runs from 25 June to 26 October 2008.

Those participating included:
- Claire Andrieu, historienne
- Jean-Pierre Bady
, conseiller maître honoraire à la Cour des comptes
- Muriel de Bastier, chargée de mission à la CIVS
-- Monica Dugot, directrice des restitutions pour Christie’s, New York
- Gérard Gélineau-Larrivet, président de la CIVS
- Anne Grynberg, directrice scientifique du comité d’histoire auprès de la CIVS
- Uwe Hartmann, directeur du Arbeitsstelle für Provenienzforschung
- Peter Jones, Spoliation advisory pannel
- Théo Klein, président du Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme
- Harald König, Office fédéral pour la question des spoliations, Berlin
- Jacques Lust, Service fédéral de la recherche scientifique de Belgique
- Isabelle le Masne de Chermont, conservatrice générale à la Direction des musées de France
- Marc Masurovsky, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington
- Alain Monteagle, fondé de pouvoir de l’indivision Jaffé
- Lynn H. Nicholas, historienne
- Caroline Piketty, conservateur aux Archives Nationales
- Didier Schulmann, conservateur général au Mnam-Cci, Centre Georges Pompidou
- Ady Steg, président de l’Alliance israélite universelle
- Marion Veyssière, conservateur aux Archives Nationales
- Annette Wieviorka, historienne ;
- Nancy H. Yeide, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Details are at http://www.mahj.org/fr/5_auditorium/conferences_colloque.php?niv=4&ssniv=3#Spoliations

The French text for the symposium read:

Le colloque Le pillage des oeuvres d’art : connaître et réparer s’attache à faire le bilan et à ouvrir des perspectives sur la question des biens culturels spoliés. À la lumière de la conférence d’ouverture prononcée par AnnetteWieviorka, les intervenants examinent d’abord comment les œuvres d’art ont été intégrées dans les travaux entamés à la fin des années 1990, notamment en France par la Mission d’étude sur la spoliation des Juifs de France, dite «Mission Mattéoli ». Cette prise de conscience a suscité une sensibilisation des musées, du marché de l’art et des collectionneurs, qui prennent des dispositions pour mener des recherches de provenance.

La participation d’intervenants de plusieurs pays permet de comparer les principes et la pratique des différentes commissions nationales et internationales de restitution et d’indemnisation, et de mettre en évidence spécificités et convergences.

Further details are available on the Museum's website by clicking here

Following the Symposium, a French claimant, Régine Elkan, published various items of correspondence about her claim to the CIVS on the Museum Security Network:

Date: Fri, Sep 26 2008 10:27 am
From: Regine Elkan

Régine Elkan
31 Impasse des Coquelicots
13750 Plan d'Orgon
(04) 90-73-25-13

Plan d'Orgon, September 26, 2008

Symposium: Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War (September 14-September 15 2008, Paris, organized by Direction des musées de France and Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme, (<< LE PILLAGE DES OEUVRES D'ART: CONNAÎTRE ET RÉPARER")

Dear Museum Security Network:

My name is Régine Elkan and I am a claimant regarding an Art Collection with the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, France.

On September 14 and 15, the Direction des musées de France and Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme held a symposium in Paris called "Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War".

Please find attached a copy of a letter dated September 11, provided by me to the Direction des Musées de France regarding the provenance process related to art claims managed by the CIVS (Commission d'Indemnisation des Victimes de Spoliations).

For your information, the "France Culture" radio station is making available several broadcasts regarding the symposium, including the symposium recordings, which are available under the title "Chemins de la Connaissance" (see the link:

If you have any questions, about the above, please contact me at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Regine Elkan

For further information, contact:
Régine Elkan
31 Impasse des Coquelicots
13750 Plan d'Orgon
E-Mail : regine_elkan@yahoo.fr 

-------------- TEXT OF THE SEPTEMBER 11, 2008 LETTER -------------------

Régine Elkan
31 Impasse des Coquelicots
13750 Plan d’Orgon
(04) 90-73-25-13

September 11, 2008

Marie-Christine Labourdette
Direction des Musées de France
6, rue des Pyramides
75041 Paris Cedex 01
Par Fax: (33) 1 40 15 34 10
Par e-mail: Marie-Christine.labourdette@culture.gouv.fr

Théo Klein
Président du Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme
Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
71, rue du Temple
75003 Paris
Par Fax: (33) 1 42 72 97 47
Par e-mail: secretariat-general@mahj.org

RE : Symposium: Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War (September 14-September 15 2008, Paris, organized by Direction des musées de France and Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme, (« LE PILLAGE DES OEUVRES D’ART: CONNAÎTRE ET RÉPARER")

Ms. Labourdette, Mr. Klein :

I am the daughter of Rosalie Elkan (born April 04, 1909, deceased January 01, 1998) and Robert Elkan (born November 1902, deceased March 20, 1968). My parents, along with other family members were victims of significant economic and financial spoliations during the Vichy Regime.

As you probably know, in May 2002, I initiated a restitution action with the « Commission d’Indemnisation des Victimes de Spoliations » (« CIVS »). Specifically, this action involved the so-called « Bouvier » collection, which was bequeathed to the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, France in 1965-1968. The executor in charge of this bequest was Jean Bourdel, a former President of the Paris Chamber of « Notaires ».

Following the restitution action with the CIVS, I initiated a suit with the Paris Administrative Court against the Office of the of the French Prime Minister on February 10, 2006, since the CIVS reports into the Office of the French Prime Minister.

Under your initiative, a symposium will be held this week-end on the issue of "Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War". During this symposium, the CIVS will have a significant opportunity to present its views on the resolution of restitution claims.

With this letter, I wanted to make sure that the organizers of this symposium also hear the position of claimants on the restitution procedures run by the CIVS.

My claim with the CIVS, along with my complaint with the Paris Administrative Tribunal, include the Fraenkel estate, which was aryanized during the Vichy Regime. This estate included substantial financial assets, and most notably a very significant collection of XVIIIth Century French Fine Furniture (more than 200 artworks). This collection is now being held by the City of Paris and is one of the largest collections of the Carnavalet Museum.

As of today, these procedures have unearthed the following facts :

- The heirs of Adolphe Fraenkel were not aware of the extent of the Fraenkel estate or of its looting until 1993 ; since 1993, the heirs of Adolphe Fraenkel have been diligent in preserving their rights by performing research of the artworks, by attempting to resolve the dispute directly with the Carnavalet Museum and the City of Paris, and by following the procedures established by the CIVS ;

- City of Paris documents establish that the Carnavalet Museum violated the statutes in effect in 1966 during the bequest procedure of the Bouvier collection ;

- The executor of the Bouvier bequest, Jean Bourdel, was also the Notaire who had control of the Fraenkel estate, and was the President of the Paris Chamber of « Notaires » from 1943 to 1944. As such, Jean Bourdel played a central role in the aryanisation and looting of real estate assets held by Jewish families in Paris during this period. On this point, the National Archives (AJ38) contradict the assessment of the Matteoli Commission Report issued in 1999.

When the CIVS was founded by then Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on September 10, 1999, I wanted to follow the « rules of the game » which the French Government had announced, by submitting my claims to a so-called independent arbitral process managed by a quasi-governmental commission, rather than resolving my claims with either French or foreign courts.

Following a six year process with CIVS, our experience has been extremely disappointing. As my suit against the French Prime Minister points out, the claims procedures and associated proceedings were marred by significant arbitrary abuses and the complete absence of due process:

- The CIVS consistently refused to proceed with appropriate and necessary research and investigation with the Bourdel Notarial Office, whereas this Office has all the appropriate records and information necessary to properly assess the Fraenkel estate. As a matter of fact, a simple investigation with the Bourdel Notarial office would have allowed the CIVS to avoid issuing absurd and contradictory interpretations of the outcome of the Fraenkel estate in its June 25, 2004 opinion. These erroneous conclusions were literally made up with the Government representative to the CIVS, who never verified his assertions with the Bourdel Notarial Office or never provided and evidence or foundations to support them. The Government representative orally presented these conclusions without a written transcript during a CIVS hearing, while I was never allowed to challenge these assertions either orally or in writing throughout the proceedings.

- The CIVS proceedings were marred by significant due process abuses when it investigated and reviewed the claims : most notably, the CIVS refused to admit a legal certificate of attestation, which established that I was a beneficiary of the Fraenkel collection. Most notably, the CIVS pressured Government officials in attempting to fraudulently create a new attestation contradicting the document I presented to the Commission.

- The CIVS refused to investigate or perform any provenance research with either the city of Paris or with the Genealogy Research firm Coutot-Roehig regarding the bequest of the Bouvier collection to the City of Paris. Following a request by me to the CADA ("Commission d’Accès aux Documents Administratifs"), I obtained on my own from the city of Paris certain limited records which showed the bequest of the Bouvier collection to the City of Paris violated the statutes involving bequest to public institutions in effect at the time.

- Following repeated requests, the CIVS refused to perform any provenance research or to provide me with any of the files containing the authentication of expert opinion regarding all artworks including the Bouvier collection, most specifically the authentication performed by Etienne Ader in 1965. During a hearing on June 25, 2004, the Carnavalet Museum Director, Jean-Marc Léri, conceded that he was intimately familiar with the details of both the Bouvier collection AND the Fraenkel collection. This statement, which was not recorded in any transcript by the CIVS, is a vivid confirmation that the City of Paris has in its possession of all of the records necessary for an appropriate provenance research and which it did not communicate. The Carnavalet Museum Director also conceded that these records did lead to an identification of a Fraenkel provenance for the Bouvier collection.

This admission shows that the City of Paris and the Carnavalet Museum have in their possession all of the appropriate information to perform complete and appropriate provenance research in order to trace back the Fraenkel collection. However, the Carnavalet Museum and the CIVS, which had the statutory obligation to perform the necessary research with the City of Paris, have both violated the ICOM Code of Ethics, the UNIDROIT Convention and the Washington Principles (December 03, 1998), which require a Museum to investigate and perform a "due diligence" research regarding the provenance of an artwork.

Therefore, I wanted to make sure that my position is known : the CIVS procedures are a failure, since the CIVS does not apply the investigation rules which are imposed by statute, it does not respect the principle of confrontation of evidence by both parties, and it attempt to manufacture false evidence.

If, during your symposium, the CIVS representatives provide any indication they are ready to reconsider their procedures regarding my claims, I am fully available to meet with any DMF representatives.

If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address above or by email at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you in advance for your help throughout this process.

Sincerely yours,

__________________________________

Régine ELKAN

cc: Bertrand Delanoë, Maire de Paris
Mairie de Paris
Place de l’Hôtel de Ville
75004 PARIS

Anna B. Rubin, Director
Holocaust Claims Processing Office
New York State Banking Department
One State Street
New York, NY 10004-1417 U.S.A.

UNESCO
Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
Mounir Bouchenaki, Sous-directeur Général pour la Culture
7, place de Fontenoy
75352 PARIS 07 SP
Par Fax: (01) 45-67-16-90

Manus Brinkman
Secrétaire Général, ICOM
Maison de l'UNESCO
1, rue Miollis
75732 Paris Cedex 15

Ori Soltes
Chairman
Center for Holocaust Art Research
1785 Massachussets Avenue NW, Suite 100
Washington, DC 20036, U.S.A.

Ady Steg
Président, Alliance Israélite Universelle
45 rue La Bruyère
75428 Paris Cedex 09
Par Fax : (33) 01 48 74 51 33
E-Mail : info@aiu.org

David Kessler
France Culture
116 avenue du Président Kennedy
75016 PARIS
Par email : David.Kessler@radiofrance.com

Jean-Pierre Bady, conseiller-maître honoraire à la Cour des comptes,
c/o Ministère de la Culture
Comité d'histoire du ministère de la culture et des institutions culturelles
3, place de Valois - 75001 Paris
Par Fax : 01 40 15 79 52
Par email : comitehistoire@culture.gouv.fr

Isabelle le Masne de Chermont
Conservatrice générale, Direction des musées de France
6, rue des Pyramides 75001 Paris
Par Fax : +33 (01) 40 20 51 69
E-Mail : Isabelle.Lemasnedechermont@culture.gouv.fr, bamn@culture.gouv.fr

Laurence Sigal-Klagsbald, directrice du Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme
Hôtel de Saint-Aignan
71, rue du Temple
75003 Paris
Par Fax: (33) 1 42 72 97 47
Par e-mail: secretariat-general@mahj.org 

http://www.radiofrance.fr/chaines/france-culture2/dossiers/2008/spoliations/emissions.php?PHPSESSID=16f3217db750817a23773393a421e15d).

_________________________

Date: Wed, Oct 1 2008 8:14 am
From: Regine Elkan 

Régine Elkan
31 Impasse des Coquelicots
13750 Plan d’Orgon
(04) 90-73-25-13

Plan d’Orgon, October 01, 2008

Re: WWII Art Claim Against the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, France

Dear Museum Security Network:

My name is Régine Elkan and I am a claimant regarding an Art Collection with the Carnavalet Museum in Paris, France.

I recently shared with you information regarding a symposium in Paris called "Spoliation, Restitution, Compensation and Provenance Research: The Fate of Works of Art recovered after the Second World War", held in Paris on September 15 by the Direction des musées de France and the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme.

As a follow up to this email, I am sharing with the mailing list a copy of the complaint filed by me against the Office of the French Prime Minister on February 06, 2006. Please note that the complaint is in French.

The complaint does not demand the restitution of the Bouvier collection, but rather, asks the Court to force the French Government to properly apply the CIVS procedures and to have the CIVS ("Commission d’Indemnisation des Victimes de Spoliations ») properly review the claim according to its own operating and due process principles, most notably by sharing the provenance information with me, and disclosing the files related to the looting of my family’s estates.

If you have any questions, about the above, please contact me at regine_elkan@yahoo.fr. I thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Regine Elkan

For further information, contact:

Régine Elkan
31 Impasse des Coquelicots
13750 Plan d’Orgon
E-Mail : regine_elkan@yahoo.fr

Read the text of Régine Elkan's letter of complaint to the Office of the French Prime Minister here.

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