The Holocaust Art Restitution Project files an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court in the Guelph Treasure case opposing the DOJ's position that Holocaust takings do not qualify as expropriation under federal law
For Immediate Release
Press Contacts: In Washington, DC: Marc Masurovsky, (00) 1 202 255 1602 , email@example.com
In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric (00) 1 212 260 6090, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY USA – October 29, 2020
On October 28, 2020, the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, a not-for-profit group dedicated to the identification and restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi, filed, through its counsel, Pierre Ciric, Esq., an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in the so-called “Guelph Treasure” case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
This case involves the Welfenschatz, or Guelph trove, currently in the possession of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (“the Foundation”) and has been claimed by successors of art dealers who were fleeing the Holocaust. These objects were originally housed in the cathedral in Braunschweig, owned by the House of Guelph. In the 1920s, the pieces were sold to a consortium of Frankfurt art dealers. Later in 1935, the Prussian state, led by Hermann Goering, “bought” the treasure from those art dealers. Following a 2014 rejection of the dealers’ heirs claims by the German so-called “Limbach Commission,” suit was brought against the Foundation and Germany in the U.S.
In siding with the German defendants, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) argued that Germany was immune from suit because “domestic takings” by foreign governments do not fall under the expropriation exception to the immunity rules.
HARP’s amicus brief argues that the DOJ’s defense is baseless because of legal precedents, is contrary to multiple U.S. statutes promulgated by the U.S. Congress and to the long-standing U.S. policy regarding restitution of Nazi-looted artworks claimed by Holocaust survivors. Finally, the brief argues that the DOJ’s position would raise significant due process concerns by distinguishing heirs of German Jews from heirs of Jews stripped of their citizenship during the Holocaust.
According to Ori Z. Soltes, HARP’s chairman, “it is simply disheartening to see our own government arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that the Holocaust does not qualify as a genocidal enterprise worthy of being recognized as a ‘violation of international law.’ If the Holocaust does not fall squarely in this definition, then nothing else does! The Court should reject this baseless argument and ensure that the U.S. remains a proper forum for claimants to seek redress from the genocidal enterprise of looting cultural assets from Jews during World War II.”
The Ciric Law Firm, PLLC is a New York law firm specialized in cultural heritage law and in commercial litigation services for businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals.
HARP is a not-for-profit group dedicated to the identification and restitution of looted artworks requiring detailed research and analysis of public and private archives in North America. HARP has worked for 22 years on the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi regime.
The case is Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Germany, 894 F.3d 406 (D.C. Cir. 2018), cert. granted, No. 19-351 (U.S. July 2, 2020).
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