Showing 12 results for the tag: Nazis.

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

January 22, 2015

SCOTUS rules against Norton Simon Museum looted art apeal

Posted at 9:35 pm in Similar cases

The United States Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Norton Simon Museum, which aimed to prevent a court case brought by the heir of Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker.

The appeal claimed that the claims made by the heir (Marei von Saher) conflicted with the US policy of resolving war-related art disputes and therefore with its right to conduct foreign affairs. The rejection of their appeal clears the way for von Saher to bring litigation against the institution, in an attempt to rectify the consequences of the forced transaction with Göring during the war.

You can read some more information about the background to the case here.

Adam and Eve, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Adam and Eve, 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

From:
Art Newspaper

By Laura Gilbert. Web only
Published online: 20 January 2015
Supreme Court rejects Norton Simon’s appeal in looted art case

The US Supreme Court today, 20 January, declined to hear the Pasadena-based Norton Simon Museum’s appeal in a case contesting its ownership of a life-size pair of paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Adam and Eve, around 1530, belonged to the Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, who fled the Netherlands in 1940 after the Nazi invasion.

The Supreme Court’s rejection allows Goudstikker’s heir, Marei von Saher, who has been battling for the paintings in federal court since 2007, to continue her lawsuit. It also leaves standing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that pursuing her claims does not interfere with the US government’s conduct of foreign affairs.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 3, 2014

Different types of artefact dispute

Posted at 10:57 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

The list of disputed artefacts from The Guardian is different to many others, in that it has widened its remit, to include any artefact that have some dispute relating to them. as a result, while some are well know restitution cases such as the Bust of Nefertiti or the Parthenon Marbles, in other cases the dispute relates to who the work itself actually depicts, or who originally produced the painting. as a result, it ends up a rather confused list, presenting a mixed message, where well grounded restitution cases such as the Parthenon Sculptures are mixed up with discussions over the authenticity of works by Pollock.

That is not to say that the list is without interest however – if anything, it helps to reinforce the importance of provenance in giving the true value to a work of art. Without it, the matter of where it came from & who created it will always be the subject of debate.

Picasso's Boy leading a horse in the MoMA is subject to claims that it was looted during the holocaust

Picasso’s Boy leading a horse in the MoMA is subject to claims that it was looted during the holocaust

From:
Guardian

The 10 best disputed artworks
Laura Cumming
Friday 31 October 2014 12.00 GMT

As Greek efforts to reclaim the Parthenon Marbles receive a boost from Amal Clooney, Laura Cumming considers other artworks caught up in legal and artistic wrangling

The Parthenon Marbles
The great frieze of figures removed from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century remains the most perennially disputed of all artworks, the arguments as divided as the sculptures themselves – the goddess Iris’s head is in Athens, her body in the British Museum; Poseidon’s torso is split between them. Defenders argue that Elgin bankrupted himself to save the marbles from local destruction, with full Greek authority, and London is their legal home. The opposition (which has included Byron, Christopher Hitchens and of course now the Clooneys) argues that the marbles were literally “ripped off” the Parthenon, and ruinously scoured, and must be returned to Greece.

The Household of Philip IV, ‘Las Meninas’, Kingston Lacy, Dorset
In 1814 an Englishman abroad thought he had come upon Velázquez’s first version of Las Meninas (1656) – not that he, or practically anyone else at that time, had seen the original in the Spanish royal palace. William Bankes MP bought the canvas for Kingston Lacy, his Dorset home, calling it “the pride of England”. It shows the celebrated scene on a much smaller scale and with strange anomalies, not least the fact that the famous mirror at the back is empty. Some believe it to be a preliminary oil sketch, most that it is undoubtedly a copy by his son-in-law Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo. The row still rages: the Prado held a conference only this year.
Read the rest of this entry »

February 11, 2014

George Clooney on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:02 pm in Elgin Marbles

More coverage of George Clooney’s statements about the Parthenon Marbles & how he believes that they should be returned to Greece.

George Clooney

George Clooney

From:
Guardian

George Clooney backs return of Parthenon Marbles to Greece
Actor says it would be “very nice” if the British Museum reptriates ancient frieze removed by Lord Elgin in 19th century
Maev Kennedy
The Guardian, Sunday 9 February 2014 20.16 GMT

George Clooney has strolled into one of the most bitter and longest-running controversies in the heritage world, saying it would be “very nice” if the British Museum sent the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece.

Clooney, at the Berlin Film Festival promoting The Monuments Men, the story of an Allied team trying to save artefacts from the Nazis, was asked by a Greek reporter whether Britain should return the Marbles.
Read the rest of this entry »

October 30, 2013

Netherlands Museums Association sees return of Nazi loot as “moral obligation”

Posted at 3:34 pm in Similar cases

Nazi loot in museums has been a hot topic in recent years for many countries. While some countries are still dragging their heels in terms of any attempts at restitution, it appears that the Netherlands has taken a far more proactive approach & is examining museum collections across the board to identify artworks, along with possible rightful owners.

1921 painting 'Odalisque' by Henri Matisse

1921 painting ‘Odalisque’ by Henri Matisse

From:
Haaretz

Dutch museums identify 139 likely Nazi looted artworks
Paintings by Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky are among works thought to have been taken from Jewish owners during Holocaust.
By The Associated Press | Oct. 29, 2013 | 6:40 PM

Dutch museums announced Tuesday they have found 139 artworks that may have been looted during the Nazi era, including paintings from masters such as Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky.

The major review of all museum collections in the country found art that had either dubious or definitely suspect origins.
Read the rest of this entry »

March 7, 2013

Should holding onto looted artefacts give museums & countries an upper hand in negotiating?

Posted at 8:47 am in British Museum, Similar cases

I have to say that I completely disagree with the general approach that this article advocates – which could be summarised, as something like: Wealthy Museums of the West (along with the countries in which they are based) can now use their disputed artefacts as bargaining chips, to secure political / cultural changes in the countries of the original owners.

If somebody robs your house, should that then give them the upper hand in securing some form of change in your lifestyle, before agreeing to return the items that they took?

Quite what gives these museums the right to enforce change on countries in this way is unclear, other than being down to the fact that they were fortunate enough to know people dis-reputable enough to have managed to acquire the artefacts in the first place – hardly a great endorsement for their policies, or for taking the moral high ground.

From:
Whistleblower

Looted art – hostage or weapon against terror?
Exclusive: Marisa Martin suggests U.S. start using its diplomacy tool
Published: 12/12/2012 at 8:58 PM

Vikings stormed Britain, while Mongols left Bagdad a culture-free zone. Warlords came, saw and trashed all the books and statues while they were at it. Even now someone is whacking away at the ankles of a limestone Buddha in India or Bangladesh.

Have times changed for the better?

Napoleon revitalized looting trends by demanding art from conquered Italians and churches. Since then, the Captains of Genocide have handled the art of their victims differently, particularly the Nazis. Probably the most prolific war thieves ever, they discarded entire races whiles secreting their art in stashes all over the globe. Art Loss Register, an international database, lists 300,000 missing and stolen artworks with approximately 85 percent occurring before 1945, not coincidentally with the demise of the Nazis.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 7, 2012

Monuments Men – the people who saved the world’s artefacts from Hitler?

Posted at 9:14 am in British Museum, Similar cases

Monuments Men was originally a book by Robert M. Edsel, soon to be made into a film by George Clooney.

The story is based around people at various museums, who during the second world war did anything in their power to protect as many of their artefacts as possible from potential seizure by the Nazis. Now, in its own way, this is admirable behaviour – although I think a distinction needs to be made between protecting the artefacts – and just not wanting someone else to have them – thus enriching their culture rather than your own. Many of the items that were “protected” were removed from other countries in times of war – and these earlier removals were seen as entirely acceptable, while at the same time, we tried to stop the same thing from happening to them again. Many times, the excuse has been given for the removal of items such as the Parthenon Marbles, that had the British not takes them, Napoleon would have. Looking at it another way though, is this different from walking past a shop that has the door open at night & robbing it before someone else does, rather than closing the door & helping to secure it?

I’m sure that most of the monuments men had entirely admirable intentions – I just have trouble reconciling some of their behaviour & the reasoning behind it, with that of their predecessors – that the same action by one person can be right, when it is wrong by another.

From:
Get The Big Picture

Monday, October 29, 2012 at 7:06AM
Some Dude Named Clooney Snags Steve Zissou & Galadriel for Next Movie

Say what you will about George Clooney (and I really don’t have anything negative to say about the guy), but he has a pretty good eye when it comes to picking projects, be it for acting or directing. I’m a fan of the movies he’s directed (especially Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). He’s not flashy, workman like I would say, but outside of Leatherheads, the guy has delivered. His next project might be another win for the Cloonster and he’s bringing Bill Murray & Cate Blanchett along for the ride.

The movie is called Monuments Men (based on a book of the same name by Robert Edsel) and while it’s another movie set during World War II, this one has a really interesting premise:
Read the rest of this entry »

October 16, 2012

Is our obsession to posses art above the law? Lecture by Marc Masurovsky

Posted at 2:27 pm in Events, Similar cases

Keri Douglas has organised a talk in Washington this Friday, on Art, antiquities & law. The talk is being given by Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project.

Visit the event’s website for full details & to purchase tickets.

From:
Eventbrite

Art, Antiquities & War: Is Our Obsession to Posses Art Above the Law Lecture Series
Keri Douglas
Friday, October 19, 2012 from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM (EDT)
Washington, United States

Event Details
Marc Masurovsky, editor of plundered-art.blogspot.com and co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project will discuss the merits and challenges of the current legislation (S.2212) being considered in the U.S. Senate that potentially would give full immunity for any cultural object regardless of origin, whether licit or not, to enter the United States for cultural display without fear of being the subject of a legal claim. The proposed bill also exempts a small category of objects that were “taken” under Nazi rule—the so-called “Nazi exception”. At stake are the challenges that foreign lenders face in light of S. 2212 as well as potential or actual claimants seeking the return of their looted property.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 17, 2012

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.
Read the rest of this entry »

June 7, 2012

Court orders Flamenbaum family to return Nazi looted artefacts to museum

Posted at 1:27 pm in Similar cases

Some sources have described this situation as restitution in reverse – but it is really only reversed, in terms of the fact that the party the artefact was taken from is a museum & the party that now holds it is an individual. The ruling does nothing to reverse the logical outcome – that the party holding onto the looted artefact is instructed to hand it back to the original owner.

From:
New York Times

Nazi Victim’s Family Told to Return Artifact
By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: June 1, 2012

The decision turns on its head the familiar scenario of Holocaust victims suing to reclaim property stolen or extorted from them by the Nazis. But in this case, according to court papers, the precious 3,200-year-old Assyrian artifact had been looted, not from the survivor, but from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, at the close of World War II.

It is not clear how the survivor, Riven Flamenbaum, came into possession of the tablet after his liberation from Auschwitz in 1945, when he was sent to a displaced persons camp in southeastern Germany.
Read the rest of this entry »

March 28, 2012

George Clooney’s new film highlights the issue of looted Nazi art

Posted at 1:11 pm in Similar cases

George Clooney’s new film, “The Monuments Men”, is about the true story of looting of artworks by the Nazis, along with Hitler’s reasoning behind this, in his attempt to create the greatest art museum in the world.

This is an issue that is still a major problem today, as people try & untangle the true ownership of many artworks, so anything that gives the story more of a public prominence will hopefully help to raise the profile of ongoing cases.

The film is based on Robert M. Edsel’s book, “The Monuments Men.”

From:
Artlyst

Date: 08 Jan 2012
George Clooney Highlights Stolen Nazi Art
New film “The Monuments Men” starts pre- production in LA

A film directed by Hollywood A- lister George Clooney has started pre- production in LA this month. The film is based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History,” by Robert M. Edsel. It is about Adolf Hitler’s attempts to steal the most important art in Europe and set up the worlds greatest museum, in Berlin. His armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised. In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Momuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture. Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.

Clooney will be writing, directing and starring in the film, a co-production along with his partner, Grant Heslov. Clooney stated at the Palm Springs Film Festival on Saturday; “I’m excited about this project, It’s a fun move because it could be big entertainment. It’s a big budget, you can’t do it small, it’s la anding in Normandy.” “I’m not opposed to doing a commercial film, I’m just opposed to doing a commercial film that doesn’t feel organic to me. So if we’re going to do a commercial film we thought, ‘Let’s do something that seems exciting and actually has something to say.’”
Read the rest of this entry »

March 26, 2012

US bill aims to protect looted art while on loan to US museums

Posted at 4:56 pm in Similar cases

In what can only be a backwards step, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act, H.R. 4086 aims to protect looted artefacts from seizure whilst on loan to museums in the US. There is an exclusion for items looted by the Nazis, but (notwithstanding my reservations with a single special case that ignores others of equal merit), it excludes items that were lost through forced sales or other forms of misappropriation.

It is hard to see who will benefit from such a law other than big museums, who will find it easier to secure temporary loans for exhibitions. Surely creating exemptions in the law & allowing a free flow of looted artefacts into & out of the country is not the correct way to solve the issue though?

From:
The Hill

House to protect foreign artwork, except artwork stolen by Nazis
By Pete Kasperowicz – 03/19/12 10:02 AM ET

The House on Monday afternoon will vote on legislation aimed at making it easier for foreign governments to lend works of art to be displayed in U.S. museums, without fear of having the artwork subjected to litigation once it enters the United States. But the bill to be voted on would exempt artwork stolen by Nazi Germany from these assurances.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) introduced the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act, H.R. 4086, in February. Chabot says his bill is meant to clarify the relationship between two existing laws that has made some foreign governments wary of temporarily exporting artwork to the United States.
Read the rest of this entry »