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Germany Archives • Elginism

Showing results 1 - 12 of 52 for the tag: Germany.

September 12, 2018

Heirs of prior owner of Matisse’s Portrait of Greta Moll claim rebuffed

Posted at 11:26 pm in Similar cases

The National Gallery is trumpetting this decision, but it seems more down to legal technicalities than any judgement of innocence or otherwise

Legal action in restitution cases take many forms. One case that has interested me in the past is that of Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. As I mentioned at the time, it had commonalities with a potential case I had heard presented relating to the same US court and the Parthenon Marbles.

When trying a case in a foreign court, there are many pitfalls to be aware of, not least the potential difficulties of enforcing any judgement. Another important aspect however in the US courts is that of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). I have heard reasons why both the above cases met (or would meet) the conditions set by the Act – but it is worth bearing in mind that other cases have not been so lucky.

This news story relates to the heirs of a painting by Matisse, which was given by the owners (in Berlin) to someone (in Switzerland) for safekeeping in the chaotic aftermath of World War Two. This presents an interesting case (from a British point of view), in that it neatly avoids the (necessarily specific, but thus rather blunt) definitions of the Nazi Era used the in UK’s Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Bill. Of course, as this case was tried in a foreign jurisdiction, the aforementioned act would not apply in this case anyway.

The person in Switzerland entrusted with looking after the artwork then sold it and kept the proceeds. The painting eventually ended up in the UK’s National Gallery.

In this case, the Federal Appeals court in New York has rejected the claim, due to the fact that it does not meet the conditions of the FSIA, because the painting was taken by an individual rather than a state.

That said, this is a technical argument that means that the case can not proceed. It in no way endorses (or not) the due diligence by the National Gallery in checking the origins of a work by a well known artist (which has echoes of the Feldmann paintings about it). Possibly another case brought under a different jurisdiction might find differently. With the Feldmann Paintings, while the British Museum claimed that they were acquired in good faith, it now argued that it felt there was an overwhelming moral case for their return. Perhaps the National Gallery should follow suit?

Matisse's Portrait of Greta Moll (1908)

Matisse’s Portrait of Greta Moll (1908)

From:
The Art Newspaper

Court rejects claim to Matisse owned by National Gallery
Rebuffing heirs, an appeals panel in New York says the court lacks jurisdiction
Nancy Kenney
11th September 2018 18:26 GMT

A federal appeals court in New York has rejected a claim to a 1908 Matisse painting owned by the National Gallery in London by three grandchildren of the muse portrayed in the work.

In demanding the work’s return, the heirs had argued that the painting, Portrait of Greta Moll, was illegally sold by a former art student to whom the painting had been entrusted for safekeeping in the aftermath of the Second World War. The portrait changed hands several times before it was acquired by the National Gallery in 1979.
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February 24, 2015

Germany sued in US courts over Nazi looted Guelph treasure

Posted at 2:02 pm in Similar cases

Once again, the courts of the District of Columbia seems to be one of the destinations of choice for litigation involving Nazi loot.

In this instance, the items in question are the Guelph Treasures, which two claimants were sold under duress by their ancestors in 1935 to the state of Prussia, then overseen by high-ranking Nazi Hermann Göring. The treasures are currently displayed in Berlin’s Bode Museum.

Part of the Guelph treasure currently on display in Berlin

Part of the Guelph treasure currently on display in Berlin

From:
Wall Street Journal

Germany Is Sued in U.S. Court Over Medieval Treasure Acquired by Nazis
By Mary M. Lane
Updated Feb. 24, 2015 12:13 a.m. ET

BERLIN—A year after Germany pledged to bolster its efforts to return art stolen by the Nazis, Jewish claimants to medieval relics valued at millions of dollars say the government isn’t living up to its promise.

Two claimants to a collection of medieval Christian treasure filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Washington on Monday against the German government and the government-controlled museum that owns the artifacts. They allege their ancestors sold the collection, known as the Guelph treasure, under duress in 1935 to the state of Prussia, then overseen by high-ranking Nazi Hermann Göring.
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January 26, 2015

Greek government receives money from Germany

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

Not the headline you were expecting given the current political events.

Actually, its some much older looted coins, which were smuggled out of the country 7 seized from a car en-route to Munich.

Ancient Greek coins repatriated by Germany

Ancient Greek coins repatriated by Germany

From:
Greek Reporter

Repatriation of 2,607 Seized Ancient Greek Coins From Germany
by A. Makris – Jan 24, 2015

A total of 2,607 ancient coins seized on September 9, 2011, in the luggage of a Greek citizen travelling by car to Munich have been repatriated from Germany, according to a Greek Culture Ministry announcement.

Members of an antiquities smuggling criminal organization dismantled in March 2012 were involved in the case.
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December 3, 2014

Gurlitt bequest to open way for return of Nazi loot

Posted at 9:36 am in Similar cases

A bequest to a small Swiss Museum by the son of one of Hitler’s main art dealers could open the way to restitution for more than 1000 items.

Franz Marc's 'Pferde in Landschaft' forms part of the Gurlitt bequest

Franz Marc’s ‘Pferde in Landschaft’ forms part of the Gurlitt bequest

From:
Wall Street Journal

Swiss Museum Close to Accepting Nazi-Era Art Bequest
Kunstmuseum Bern to Make Final Decision on Gurlitt Bequest in Days; Looted Pieces to Be Returned
Mary M. Lane
Nov. 19, 2014 7:34 p.m. ET

BERN, Switzerland—A small art museum in the Swiss capital is preparing to take possession of more than 1,000 artworks bequeathed to it by the son of one of Hitler’s main art dealers, unshackling Germany from an embarrassing burden that has weighed on it for a year.

Barring any last-minute legal objections, the Kunstmuseum Bern is expected to decide as early as Saturday to accept the estate of the late Cornelius Gurlitt, according to three people familiar with the museum board’s discussions.
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September 10, 2014

Study on Native American Scalp in German museum could lead to restitution

Posted at 12:55 pm in Similar cases

A Native American Scalp in the Karl May Museum near Dresden in Germany is going to be subject to a study over its origins & acquisition, which the museum concedes may provide the basis for its eventual restitution.

Native American exhibition at the Karl May museum

Native American exhibition at the Karl May museum

From:
Phys.org

German museum agrees to study on contested Native American scalp (Update)
Sep 04, 2014 by Kate Millar

A German museum said Thursday it will look into the origins of a scalp claimed by a Native American tribe as an ancestral artefact.

Scientists from the Karl May Museum in the eastern town of Radebeul near Dresden will begin an investigation to shed light on the provenance of one of 17 scalps in its collections, a museum spokeswoman said.
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June 19, 2013

Germany’s moral right to reclaim from Russia the treasures (that they looted from others)

Posted at 1:11 pm in Similar cases

Berlin’s Pergamnon Museum has been the subject of various restitution requests from countries such as Turkey. Not for the first time though, Germany is trying to turn the whole situation on its head, by clamouring for the return of some of the artefacts from its museums that were taken by Russia. This approach would be fine – but for as long as it ignores the requests for restitution of items such as the Pergamon Altar, they shouldn’t expect other countries to have too much sympathy with their predicament.

It has to be added though – that Russia’s behaviour has hardly been exemplary either. Particularly in its attempts to deliberately highlight just how many artefacts they managed to illegally acquire from Germany.

From:
Independent

Mary Dejevsky
Tuesday 18 June 2013
The Pergamon Museum offers a pointed message from Berlin to Russia – give our treasures back

Briefly in Berlin, I took time out to visit the Pergamon Museum, which houses –among many, many antiquities, the remains of the great temple and its altar. If you’re at all queasy about how the Elgin Marbles reached the British Museum and why they are still there, you should probably give the Pergamon temple a miss. Otherwise, it is one of the great relics of the ancient world, rescued – or looted, depending on your view – for the delectation and education of more northerly Europeans.

There are, though, good reasons why – despite any misgivings – it’s worth going. One is that the Pergamon Museum is part of a grand, and still growing, ensemble that occupies Museum Island just a short distance from the Reichstag. Clustering so many grand collections together, rather than scattering them around the city in the name of regeneration, provides a magnificent monument to high culture that is unique to Berlin.
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May 31, 2013

Germany’s Pfahlbaumuseum will return 8,000 illegally excavated pottery fragments to Greece

Posted at 1:15 pm in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

The Pfahlbaumuseum in Bodensee has agreed to return 8,000 pottery fragments that were illegally excavated in Greece in 1941.

From:
ENET

16:15 Wednesday 29 May 2013
Thousands of Greek antiquities repatriated from Germany

8,000 pottery fragments illegally excavated during Second World War

Germany’s Pfahlbaumuseum will in June return to Greece 8,000 pottery fragments illegally excavated from Thessaly during the Second World War
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March 6, 2013

Germany celebrates 100 years since acquisition of Nefertiti bust

Posted at 6:56 pm in Similar cases

The Neferti bust is one of the most high profile artefacts that Egypt is requesting the return of. Germany’s latest actions only draw attention to this case though, by organising a special exhibition to commemorate the fact that it is 100 years since they acquired the artefact.

From:
Time

The Bust of Nefertiti: Remembering Ancient Egypt’s Famous Queen
By Ishaan Tharoor
Dec. 06, 2012

On a sunny afternoon on Dec. 6, 1912, an Egyptian worker at a dig along the banks of the Nile came across what may be the most striking find in the history of Egyptology. Ludwig Borchardt, the German archaeologist in charge of the excavation, scribbled excitedly in his diary a century ago: “The tools were put aside, and the hands were now used … It took a considerable amount of time until the whole piece was completely freed from all the dirt and rubble.” What emerged was a 3,300-year-old limestone bust of an ancient queen, colored with a gypsum lacquer. A flat-topped crown perched above a finely defined brow. Her cheekbones were high, nose distinguished. A thin, elegant neck — some now describe it “swanlike” — rose from the bust’s base. “We held the most lively piece of Egyptian art in our hands,” wrote Borchardt.

The bust is of Nefertiti, queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who reigned in the 14th century B.C. A hundred years after Nefertiti’s bust was lifted out of the ground at Amarna, some 480 km south of Cairo, it remains one of the most iconic figures of Egyptian antiquity, far smaller than the pyramids or the Sphinx, but no less globally resonant. The bust adorns souvenir schlock throughout Egypt and history schoolbooks worldwide. When it went on display at a museum in Berlin in the 1920s, it was almost immediately held up as a symbol of universal, timeless beauty. That’s not surprising. Nefertiti’s name means “the beautiful one has come.”
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September 12, 2012

Berlin’s Egyptian Museum celebrates centenary of Nefertiti bust discovery

Posted at 12:53 pm in Similar cases

The Egyptian Museum in Berlin is celebrating the centenary of the discovery of the bust of Nevertiti. Perhaps this would be a fitting point, for them to also enter into serious discussions with Egypt, who also claims ownership of the artefact.

From:
Hurriyet

Berlin marks 100 years of discovering Nefertiti
BERLIN – Agence France-Presse

Berlin’s Egyptian Museum has said that it will celebrate the centenary of the discovery of the 3,400-year-old fabled bust of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti amid an ongoing feud with Cairo over its ownership.

The museum said it would open an exhibition on Dec. 6 honoring the famous sculpture and other jewels of the Amarna period in its collection on the German capital’s Museum Island.
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September 5, 2012

The Aegina Marbles from the Temple of Aphaia

Posted at 8:33 am in Greece Archaeology, Similar cases

The Elgin Marbles are by far the most famous sculptures missing from a Greek temple – but there are many other similar, less known cases. Each case is of course different, but there are still parallels that can be drawn.

In the case of this article, is is the sculptures from the Temple of Aphaia, located on the island of Aegina in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, close to Piraeus, which are now held by a museum in Germany.

From:
George Vardas

The Aegina Marbles: Time to come home?

On 13 April 2011 a group of local dignitaries, school children and villagers gathered in front of the Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina, carrying placards and making speeches calling for the return of sculptures removed from the sacred temple exactly 200 years ago. Whilst the more famous Elgin Marbles are the paragon of looted works of art and have been the subject of much debate as demands intensify for their return from the British Museum, the significance of the Aegina sculptures should not be forgotten as they continue to decorate the galleries of the Glyptothek Museum in Munich, Germany, a neo-Classical building, displaying sculptures from Greece’s archaic period

Aegina is the closest island to Athens and is one of the jewels of the Argo-Saronic Gulf. On the eastern part of the island on a pine-covered hill, commanding views over the gulf, lies a beautiful Doric temple built in around 490BC out of limestone and marble. The sanctuary is dedicated to the goddess Aphaia (the “Dark One” or “Invisible One” and possibly a Minoan goddess linked to the veneration of Athena). The sculptures that once adorned the temple have been described as amongst the most famous and important artistic remains from the Archaic and early Classical periods, depicting the heroism of the Greek warriors during the Trojan War. Heroic combat is not only the stuff of Greek mythology and history but, to borrow from Shelley, it also resides in the marbled immortality that is Ancient Greece.
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July 17, 2012

Subhash Chandra Kapoor’s role in the looting of India’s heritage

Posted at 1:10 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

India, like many countries has suffered heavily, both in the past & in modern times, from looting of its ancient heritage for profit by art dealers, who sell it on to private collections. In recent years however, they have started to make more efforts to put a stop to this trade – culminating in the arrest of dealer Subhash Chandra Kapoor in Germany & his subsequent extradition to India to face charges. Kapoor is accused of smuggling eighteen 18 temple idols from Tamil Nadu.

Intriguingly, the article refers to an artefact in the British Museum – that was returned to India, following a legal case. It does not elaborate on how this was possible however, as it appears that such actions would be in conflict with the anti-deaccessioning terms in the British Museum act, unless there are other relevant points to the case that have not been mentioned.

From:
The Hindu

CHENNAI, July 15, 2012
The murky trail of stolen antiquities
A. Srivathsan

When antique dealer Subhash Chandra Kapoor, 61, arrested in Germany and extradited to India for his alleged role in spiriting away 18 temple idols from Tamil Nadu, was produced before the Ariyalur court on Saturday, it marked the second most sensational development of its kind in the country. It also pointed once again to the inscrutable ways of the idol-smugglers and their ruthlessly creative potential.

The trail of the biggest such racket revealed so far was traced back to Jaipur. In July 2003, after a year-long surveillance, the police arrested Vaman Narayan Ghiya, the owner of a handicrafts shop in the Rajastan capital. His shop was only a front; in reality it was a hub of illicit trading in antiquities.
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Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial car looted by the Nazis siezed at Essen Techno Classica Car fair

Posted at 7:55 am in Similar cases

In another case, that exemplifies the wide range of items that can be subjected to looting, in this case, a Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial car.

Apart from the fact that the case is interesting in that it isn’t about the usual paintings / sculptures, it raises various other questions from a legal viewpoint – which are picked up on in the article.

From:
Oostward Kunstrecht

Looted Art, Art Theft
Wartime claim on old-timer still valid?

On 29 May 2012, the Hamburg District Court rendered an important decision in a matter concerning a vehicle that was taken from Germany in 1945 by U.S. soldiers. The car, a Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial, had been acquired by Hans Friedrich Prym in 1935. This unique and valuable car disappeared when Prym had been imprisoned by the allied forces. The Mercedes at some point in time after the Second World War resurfaced in the United States, in any event around 1976. The old-timer was put up for auction in 2011 in California, as the heirs had come to learn. The auctioneer allegedly refused to hand-over the vehicle. Mr. Frans van Haren, a Dutchman, acquired the old-timer at the auction.

The car after the auction was shipped to Germany to be displayed at the Techno Classica Car fair in Essen in March 2012, at which point the German authorities seized the car.
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