News

'Buyer, Be Fair' Nonagenarian Traces Owner of Art Stolen in Holocaust to Israeli Buyer
Haaretz 8 February 2016
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Yeshiva University Returns Historic Rabbinical Documents
Wall Street Journal 5 February 2016
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State’s Attorney General Weighs in on L.A. Looted Art Case
Times of San Diego 5 February 2016
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Ronald S. Lauder: ‘A crime committed 80 years ago continues to stain the world of art today’
World Jewish Congress 2 February 2016
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Two art recovery agencies in dispute
Antiques Trade Gazette 1 February 2016
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Raub und Rückkehr - Theft and Restitution
Tagespiegel 30 January 2016
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Portrait of a painting: from Nazi Germany to Westerville
Columbus Monthly 29 January 2016
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Why a Swiss gallery should return its looted Nazi art out of simple decency
The Guardian 27 January 2016
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Switzerland to Finance Research Into Disputed Art
New York Times 26 January 2016
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Art Loss Register faces competition complaint from Art Recovery Group
The Art Newspaper 26 January 2016
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Il racconto di Lili Vera Gutmann della collezione di famiglia trafugata dai nazisti
RAI 26 January 2016
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Jewish Heirs Sue Swiss Museum to Recover Constable Painting
New York Times 25 January 2016
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La recherche de l'origine des oeuvres volées encouragée par l'Etat
Swissinfo 25 January 2016
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Lost Polish painting tracked down
Radio Poland 25 January 2016
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Lords put pressure on UK government to sign Hague Convention this year
The Art Newspaper 21 January 2016
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Kunstmuseum Bern Director Questions Expectation Surrounding Gurlitt Trove
Artnet 21 January 2016
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WJC President Ronald Lauder to give lecture in Switzerland on Nazi-looted art
WJC 21 January 2016
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High Court Rejects Appeal By Composer Mendelssohn's Family for Picasso Return
AP 19 January 2016
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Dresden buys back Kirchner painting seized by Nazis as ‘degenerate art’
The Art Newspaper 19 January 2016
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Beirat empfiehlt Rückgabe von Objekten aus Volkskunde-Museum - Austrian panel recommends restitution of objects in the Volkskunde Museum Vienna
Kleine Zeitung 15 January 2016
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Websites and Resources

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

Conferences and Events

Winter School Provenance Research, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich, 22-26 February 2016

Full details of the public events are now available here.

Interdisciplinary Art Crime Conference, Amelia, Italy, 24-26 June 2016

Organised by ARCA, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. Call for submission of abstracts by potential presenters by 15th March. Relevant subject areas include provenance research/collecting history, art policing and illicit art trafficking. For full details, click here.

Collecting and Provenance: Usage, Authenticity and Ownership Conference, Israel Museum Jerusalem, 13-16 November 2016

Call for papers by the end of February 2016. For full details of the conference and contact details, click here.

Publications

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.
read more
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.
read more
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.
read more
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
A Critical Assessment of US Intelligence's Investigation of Nazi Art Looting
April 2015
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Prisoners of War: Nazi-Era Looted Art and the Need for Reform in the United States
March 2015
Jessica Schubert.
read more
Nazi-Looted Art from East and West in East Prussia: Initial Findings on the Erich Koch Collection
February 2015
Patricia Kennedy Grimsted.
read more
Artists Under Hitler: Collaboration and Survival in Nazi Germany
January 2015
Jonathan Petropoulos.
read more
L'Impossible Réparation
January 2015
Jean-Marc Dreyfus. A history of French negotiations with Germany between 1944 and 2001 for reparations for deportations, spoliation, war crimes and seized bank accounts.
read more
Fair and Just Solutions? Alternatives to Litigation in Nazi-Looted Art Disputes: Status Quo and New Developments
December 2014
Editor Evelien Campfens.
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Forgotten Trials of the Holocaust
November 2014
Michael J. Bazyler and Frank M. Turkheimer. Ten “forgotten trials” of the Holocaust, selected from the many Nazi trials that have taken place over the course of the last seven decades.
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Die Praxis des Sammelns. Personen und Institutionen im Fokus der Provenienzforschung
November 2014
Eva Blimlinger and Heinz Schödl (ed).
read more
Museums and Restitution, New Practices, New Approaches
September 2014
Edited by Louise Tythacott, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK, and Kostas Arvanitis, University of Manchester, UK.
read more
Holocaust-Era Looted Art: A Current World-Wide Overview
September 2014
Dr Wesley A. Fisher and Dr Ruth Weinberger. Report by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and World Jewish Restitution Organization
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 international resources, see below, Online Resources and Case News.

For the Gurlitt collection at the Kunstmuseum Bern, click here. For the full range of developments on the Gurlitt case, click here. For all news stories, see the News Archive.  For all other materials, including ALIU reports, etc, search 'Gurlitt'. 

To subscribe to our looted art newsletter, click here.

NEW

10 February 2016 UK Spoliation Panel rejects claim by Silberberg heirs to an ivory gothic relief in the Ashmolean Museum sold at a Paul Graupe auction in Berlin on 12 October 1935

The UK Panel turned down the claim stating that as 'on the balance of probability..it was neither a forced sale nor a sale at an under-value and that Max [Silberberg] received the proceeds of sale, we have reached the conclusion that the moral claim for the restitution of this small medieval ivory to the Estate of the daughter-in-law of Max is insufficiently strong to warrant a recommendation of restitution or the making of an ex-gratia payment'.
Max Silberberg sold his art collection over four sales at Paul Graupe in 1935 and 1936 following the forced sale of his home to the SS earlier in 1935.
To read the report, 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.

20 January 2016: Dutch Restitution Committee recommends restitution of antique jewel to heirs of Jewish art dealer Kurt Walter Bachstitz

                                      
The heirs had previously applied for restitution of the cameo, now in Leiden, but that request was rejected in 2009. The Committee has recommended its return now because of new information coming to light showing that Bachstitz sold it for NLG 6,000 to the German museum director Hans Posse, Adolf Hitler’s art buyer in 1941 to pay for his very sick son to stay in a Swiss sanatorium. In the Committee’s opinion the choice of neutral Switzerland cannot be considered in isolation from the situation that was threatening Jews in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands and concluded that there was involuntary loss of possession as a result of the Nazi regime. Since it is plausible that Bachstitz spent the proceeds of the sale on his son’s stay in safety in Switzerland, the Committee recommended that the heirs should not be made to repay the sum concerned.
The heirs had also requested the return of 14 other works of art from the NK collection. Because there was no indication that the sale by Bachstitz took place forcibly, the Restitution Committee advised the minister not to restitute these works of art.
To read the recommendation, click here.

Final report of the Gurlitt Task Force 14 January 2016

The final report of the Gurlitt Task Force, which began work in November 2013, has been published. 72 pages long, it is only in German, thereby continuing the Task Force's inward-looking record and failure to ensure communication to those most personally interested in its detailed findings - the families who were looted and who generally do not read German.
The Task Force's little known website - all enquiries have always been referred to the lostart.de website which made no reference to it - provides a short English language 'Fact Sheet'. This summarises the research by numbers and in an unclear way. Our attempt to clarify the findings suggests:
Of the 1,258 artworks found in Munich, 507 could be ruled out as looted because they came from German museums or the Gurlitt family; 499 were identified as possibly looted, of which 4 were definitively looted, 27 are very likely to be looted, and 344 are still unclear after some research; 252 still need to have research undertaken. Of the 186 artworks found in Salzburg, 1 is definitively looted, 45 are very likely to be looted, 1 is not, and 139 are still uncertain.
The Fact Sheet also summarises the claims made and how they were dealt with. Of the 118 claims made, 62 (53%) were 'resolved'. However, 15 of the 62 stated to be 'resolved' are also stated not to be as they are 'subject to a review procedure'. 1 artwork is stated to be looted but the family 'had not lodged a claim'. Has the Task Force contacted the family? The Fact Sheet does not say. The Fact Sheeet also does not say how many of the 5 works which are definitively looted have been returned. 56 (47%) of the 118 claims made are not resolved because the research is not completed.
The record set out in the Fact Sheet, the result of two years' work, underscores the Task Force's lack of urgency and achievement in only certainly identifying five looted works of art and not even returning all of them. 
To read the Report, click here. To read the Fact Sheet, click here.

Germany's Lost Art Foundation's "Provenienzrecherche Gurlitt"

5 January 2016: The German Lost Art Foundation has announced how it will undertake the provenance research into the Gurlitt collection following the 31 December 2015 winding up of the Task Force “Schwabinger Kunstfund”, for which the Foundation had assumed responsibility on 1 April 2015. The statement is below. The details and process remain as opaque as they were under the much criticised Task Force:

'In January 2016, the German Lost Art Foundation will launch a new project titled “Gurlitt Provenance Research” which will continue the investigation of the Gurlitt art collection. Research efforts will focus on determining the provenance of works which have not yet been conclusively clarified. Of primary interest are works for which there is a suspicion that they went missing as a result of Nazi persecution or for which such claims have been made.
The project team is headed by Dr. Andrea Baresel-Brand, who is responsible for controlling, administrating and coordinating tasks, and supported by researchers who will conduct provenance research on specific works. A panel of distinguished international experts will review the project’s research findings with regard to their credibility and the appropriate use of scientific methodology. The project will draw on the personal expertise and familiarity with the Gurlitt art collection gained over the past two years. The research findings will be published in German and English following their evaluation by the review experts.
The project is financed by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and is scheduled to run for at least one year.'

German Advisory Commission - Changes proposed by Hermann Parzinger, President of the SPK

In a speech at the conference of the Deutsches Zentrum Kultur-gutverluste (DZK) on 28 November 2015 in Berlin, Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Heritage Foundation (Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, SPK)) made a number of remarks which added up to a surprisingly clear call for a change of current standards of the Limbach Commission and an overhaul of the way the Commission works.

His proposals were the following:

1. That the Commission should also act if it is called upon by only one of the two parties to a dispute. Currently it only acts if both sides agree.
2. That the administration of the Commission should be carried out by an independent secretariat and not the DZK. This must probably be seen in the context that the DZK's task is to advise e.g. museums when they are confronted with claims, but at a later state may have to act for the Commission which should be neutral. Also the heir of the collector Hans Sachs recently questioned the neutrality of the Commission in a law suit at the Magdeburg Administrative Court. He said that the Koordinierungsstelle, a forrunner of the DZK, had originally advised the Deutsches Historisches Museum, assisting it on how to handle the restitution claim, while it later, in 2008, acted as the secretariat of the Commission which decided on the claim.
3. That there should be transparency, primarily in connection with the research of museums, as many currently do not publish their findings if they come to the conclusion that a work was not lost due to Nazi persecution. This may also relate to the Limbach Commission which is currently denying the Sachs heir access to the files of the 2008 procedure, and which is the cause for the current court case in Magdeburg.
4. That the Commission should have procedural rules like any arbitration body.
5. That a representative of a Jewish organisation be on the Commission.
Taken all together these changes would make the Commission a very different kind of Institution. Parzinger's proposals met with no opposition during the DZK 's conference.


Parzinger also stressed, like the German Cultural Minister Monika Grütters the day before, that there should be no doubt that the persecution of Jews in Germany started in 1933. This was apparently a reaction to criticism by Holocaust historians concerning a remark in a brief to a US Court related to the Guelph Treasure and to the publication here of an English translation of the Commission's Recommendation in the case of Behrens v. Düsseldorf in which the Advisory Commission had held that Jewish bankers had not been persecuted and had unimpaired access to the courts till mid 1935.

 

Parzinger also emphased that German cultural institutions confronted with claims must show (in cases of allegedly forced sales) that the price paid to a persecuted person was fair and that the persecuted person actually received the money at his/her free disposal, the implication being, contrary to the Behrens decision made by the Commission, that the work of art be considered looted if both conditions are not met. In its recommendation the Commission also deviated from the policies set out in the 'Handreichung', first issued in Germany in 2001.

Identification of fifth looted work of art in Gurlitt Collection

2 December 2015: The Gurlitt Task Force announced the identification of a Menzel drawing, 'Inneres einer gotischen Kirche (Kirche in Hofgastein)' ('Church in Hofgastein'), as the fifth looted work found in the Gurlitt collection. The drawing originated in the collection of Dr Albert Martin Wolffson of Hamburg and was sold by his daughter Elsa Cohen to Hildebrand Gurlitt on 31 December 1938 with nine other works by Menzel just before she fled Germany. The drawing is on lostart.de at http://www.lostart.de/DE/Fund/478264.
The Task Force's press release, issued only in German, is available here. It makes no mention of whether the Task Force has traced the heirs, is already proceeding to restitution, expects the heirs to contact them, or etc. The drawing had already been identified as from the Wolffson collection by other researchers.
The provenance research report, also published only in German, can be read here.

Heirs of Fritz Grunbaum vs Richard Nagy

16 November 2015: Papers were filed in the New York Supreme Court this week to recover two paintings by Egon Schiele, Woman in a black pinafore and Woman hiding her face, by lawyers acting for the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum. The plaintiffs allege that the paintings were stolen from Grunbaum by the Nazis. They were found being offered for sale at the Salon Art + Design Show at the Park Avenue Armory by the New York art dealer Richard Nagy. To read the summons, click here. The exhibits are listed below: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J.

Revisionism in Germany?

The Recommendation of the German Advisory Commission in the case of ‘Behrens versus Düsseldorf’, issued Berlin 3 February 2015; and the publication in English translation of an article commenting on it by lawyers Dr Henning Kahmann and Varda Naumann


In light of the concern over historical revisionism in the decisions and legal actions of the German Federal Republic, its Advisory (Limbach) Commission and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (SPK, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), the Central Registry is making available two documents:


The first is an English translation of the Recommendation
in which the German Advisory (Limbach) Commission rejected the claim of the Behrens' heirs on the basis that the loss of the painting claimed, Pariser Wochentag by Adolph von Menzel, was not due to persecution, asserting that transfers of assets in Germany by Jewish people in 1935 were not coerced, that the Jewish sellers received the market price that prevailed at the time and that they received the proceeds of the sale at their free disposal. The Limbach Commission further asserted that no financial distress associated with persecution was involved as Jewish private banks were doing  well in 1935 and were not directly affected by persecution, both official and unofficial, between 1933 and 1935. They specifically assert that Jewish banks benefited from the upswing between 1933 and 1935.


In other cases, currently re Welfenschatz (Guelph), the Limbach Commission, together with the German Federal Republic and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), also asserts that their similar positions are based on the undisputed findings of the available body of research, although the source of this research is not indicated. It is considered that this represents a move towards a revised view of the history of the Nazi era in which transfers of Jewish owned assets up to 1935 are to be considered as normal, despite the available historical evidence and common understanding. In order to address the signficance of this departure from post-war restitution principles, the Central Registry is publishing a second new document.


The second document is the first publication in English
of an article by the German lawyers Dr Henning Kahmann and Varda Naumann,  'Comment on the Recommendation by the Advisory Commission in the case of “Behrens v. Düsseldorf”'.


In their article, Kahmann and Naumann set out the ways in which they consider Germany is now departing from the Washington Principles and specifically deviating from the 2001 Guidelines for Implementing the 1999 German Declaration with regard to the 'period of collective persecution' and the 'presumption of persecution'. They further explore these new assertions as to the historical facts which are being 'utilised to show that Nazi persecution was not causative for the loss of property' and provide examples to disprove these assertions. These include measures taken against Jewish-owned banks by the Nazis starting in 1933 and the question of whether equal access to justice was available to Jews after 1933.


To read the Advisory Commission Recommendation in English click here.
To read the Advisory Commission Recommendation in German, click here.

To read Kahmann and Naumann's article in English, click here.
To read Kahmann and Naumann's article as published in German in Zeitschrift für offene Vermögensfragen, click here.


If you wish to submit any comments for publication, please send them to info@lootedart.com.

29 October 2015: Motion to Dismiss the Claim for Restitution of the Guelph Treasure filed in New York District Court by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation

The Motion to Dismiss the suit of the heirs of the four dealers who sold the Guelph Treasure or Welfenschatz to Germany in 1935 was filed in the New York courts on 29 October by the defendants, the German State and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation which has possession of the Treasure. To read the motion and the grounds on which they are seeking to dismiss the case, click here.

15/16 September 2015 ESLI Conference in Brussels on the Importance of Provenance Research

ESLi, the European Shoah Legacy Institute, in cooperation with  Pavel Svoboda MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, hosted a conference and exhibition on conflict looting and the importance of provenance research to cultural heritage protection. To read the press release, 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: 

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.

© website copyright Central Registry 2016