Showing results 1 - 12 of 66 for the tag: USA.

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

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 28, 2015

Korean artefacts return from LA County Museum of Art

Posted at 2:16 pm in Similar cases

Two Korean artefact purchased by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are being returned after being identified as having been illegally removed from the country by a US soldier.

Official seal of Queen Moon-jung

Official seal of Queen Moon-jung

The Korea Times

Two stolen Korean artifacts to be returned home after 65 years
January 26, 2015

Two stolen artifacts will soon return to South Korea after 65 years.

The official seal of Queen Moon-jung, as well as a seal of King Hyeon-jong, were illegally taken by an American soldier during the Korean War.
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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

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.
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December 5, 2014

Christies halts sale of disputed Sardinian bronze age pagan icon

Posted at 10:50 am in Similar cases

Following growing levels of protest, Christies has put on hold the sale of a 4,500 year old Bronze Age statuette, thought to be worth over $1 million.

Sardinian politician Mauro Pili has led the campaign, asking the Auction House to provide more details of who the vendor is, and requesting that the seller proves that they are the legitimate owner of the artefact.

Disputed "mother goddess" icon from Sardinia

Disputed “mother goddess” icon from Sardinia


Mother Goddess auction: Christie’s halts sale of ‘stolen’ $1m Bronze Age pagan icon after Sardinia campaigns for its return
Michael Day
Rome – Tuesday 02 December 2014

A campaign in Sardinia to reclaim a 4,500-year-old pagan idol from a US auction house is gathering pace ahead of its scheduled sale next week, as Italy steps up the fight against the theft of its precious cultural patrimony.

Christie’s in New York had listed the marble religious artefact Dea Madre, or Mother Goddess, dating from about 2500BC, for sale on 11 December. Auctioneers hoped to sell the Bronze Age statuette for as much as $1.2m (£770,000). But campaigners claimed an initial victory today after hearing that the sale had been put on hold.
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November 16, 2014

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Posted at 10:08 pm in Similar cases

A new bill in the House of Representatives in the USA aims to limit ISIS funding, by prohibiting the import of Syrian antiquities.

Various studies have indicated that the trade in looted artefacts has played a key role in ISIS’s funding in recent months.

If the bill is passed, its remit is wider than the current ISIS situation in Syria & Northern Iraq, allowing it to apply to other areas of instability around the world, where looting is taking place.

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

US Committee of the Blue Shield

Breaking news: bill in House to protect cultural property
The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Legislation to protect cultural property worldwide and curb ISIL funding by prohibiting import of Syrian antiquities was introduced into the House by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2014

Tim Mulvey (Engel) 202-226-9103
Jeff Sagnip (Smith) 202-225-3765
Engel, Smith offer bill to preserve cultural preservation preservation, curb ISIL funding

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations today announced that they have introduced legislation to improve American efforts to preserve cultural property around the world and cut off one source of funding to ISIL. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (H.R. 5703) would take steps to coordinate efforts across government to preserve cultural artifacts where they may be threatened by conflict, instability, or natural disaster.
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March 22, 2014

Lessons learned from Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al.

Posted at 7:10 pm in Similar cases

I have mentioned previously about the dispute between the Chabad Jews & Russia, over the requests for the return of two disputed collections of books & manuscripts.

A few days ago, I came across this interesting review of the current state of the case (which still remains a long way from being resolved. Now, although I don’t believe the courts of the District of Columbia were being particularly sensible in some of their judgements on the case, there are many things that can be learned from it.

In many cases involving cultural property restitution claims, there is a split between those who feel that the case should be settled by diplomatic means, and those who believe it should be settled through legal action. The reality however isn’t so simple. In many cases, the ideal option would be to use informal negotiations to solve the issue, but what happens when this doesn’t work? If the party currently holding the disputed artefacts feels that they are in a comfortable situation & feels their ownership is secure, what reason is there for them to want to enter into some sort of negotiations where the aim of the other party is clearly to take back the artefact. One might suggest, that moral obligations or overwhelming public opinion ought to be enough of a lever, to start negotiations, but the number of well founded restitution cases that continue to be stonewalled by large institutions around the world shows that this is often not the case.

It is clear that sometimes, more is needed, at least as a catalyst to start serious negotiations. Italy was pressing for years for the return of such items as the Euphonios Krater from the Metropolitan Museum, but was only successful once the threat of legal action made the Met enter into serious negotiations. Legal actions is far from the only way of doing this however. Other countries such as Iran and Egypt have experienced success, following threats to withdraw cooperation with the countries or institutions in question.

What all this is leading to, is that whether or not we feel it is the right approach to take, legal action is sometimes going to be taken as a means to resolve restitution cases. Legal action can take many possible forms, and if you got five sets of lawyers in the room, each would have different ideas about how to approach a specific case. What this case goes to show though, is that depending on the circumstances, even if one wins the legal case, the means of enforcing such wins in international disputes are limited. In the case discussed in this article, the Chabad Jews won the case, the court has tried (albeit in a somewhat presumptuous / naive way) to enforce the ruling (and risked creating a major diplomatic incident in the process), but has so far been unsuccessful in progressing things beyond the status quo at the outset of the case. Russia still holds onto the manuscripts & still appears completely dis-inclined to consider returning them.

What is needed in such cases is an international forum of some sort (if it is legal action we are talking about, this would have to be a court, but there are other options). There are already the precedent of international courts, such as the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but the reality is that the handle only very specific cases & cultural property falls far outside their remit.

Within the Europe, there are two additional options (that have as yet been unexplored by Greece), the European Court of Human Rights & the European Court of Justice. Organisations such as UNESCO form another possible entity that could oversee the Adjudication of cultural property claims, and it is through their mandated mediation process that Greece hopes to solve the dispute over the Parthenon Sculptures. The key issue here however is that there is no obligations for countries to enter into the mediation process. At present, to the best of my knowledge, Greece has had no luck in getting Britain to actually enter into the mediation with them.

At least among advocates of the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, legal action continues to be a divisive issue, although I believe that to an extent, this is because people worry about the risks it might also carry & sometimes because they do not fully understand the nature of the tools available to them. Where cases can not be moved forward by diplomatic means though, other options are needed, and this is one of the clearest paths to take in such instances.

One of the manuscripts requested by the Chabad Jews

One of the manuscripts requested by the Chabad Jews

American Society of International Law

Reviewing the Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. Dispute
March 19, 2014 Volume: 18 Issue: 8

Nationalization of looted property continues to trigger international legal disputes. It has been almost nine decades since the Lubavitch Chasidim or Chabad Chasidim (Chabad), a Jewish religious entity, began the quest to reconstitute its collection of sacred books and manuscripts currently held by the Russian Federation.[1] While Chabad is now a New York incorporated entity, it has strong roots in the Russian Empire from which it emerged.[2] This litigation highlights the challenges in resolving historical disputes against a foreign sovereign in national courts.

The property contested in Agudas Chasidei Chabad v. Russian Federation, et al. consists of a library with more than 12,000 works dating back to the 1770s (Library) and an archive of over 25,000 pages of Chabad Rebbes’ documents (Archive).[3] Collectively, they are referred to as “the Collection” in court proceedings.[4] Chabad considers the Collection to be sacred and the Archives to be an “essential legacy . . . something concrete that . . . incorporates in itself both the sanctity, the very presence, the very personality of the Rebbe himself.”[5]
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November 17, 2013

Colloquy in Sydney on the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 1:52 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Events

I meant to post about this ages ago – but the arrival of our first child has rather disrupted my daily routine.

Anyway – in Sydney at the moment (their final day is about to start around now), is a round table event to discuss the Parthenon Marbles issue, organised by three different pro-restitution organisations from the USA, Australia & UK.

Further details of the programme for the event can be found here.


International Colloquy about the Parthenon marbles opens on Friday
Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Only few days are left before the opening of the International Colloquy: “Parthenon. An Icon of Global Citizenship”. The event will be opened on Friday the 15th of November 2013 by the Premier of NSW, The Hon Barry O’Farrell MP. The opening function will take place inside the Nicholson Museum at the University of Sydney.

“Colloquy” is the latin word for “speaking together” and the organisers of this event are trying to extend this conversation out of the limiting boundaries of a lecture hall. Using popular Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter they will try to include a larger number of participants on the four key workshop topics: Education, Litigation, Activism and Economy. Participants will be able to follow the online conversation and discuss/comment in real time.
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November 4, 2013

Dallas Museum of Art returns disputed artefacts to Italy in exchange for loan of other items

Posted at 7:43 pm in Similar cases

Back in 2002, Greek Culture Minister, Evangelos Venizelos made a proposal for how the return of the Parthenon Sculptures could be facilitated.

There were a number of aspects to Venizelos’s proposal, one of them being that Greece would offer various other artefacts to the British Museum on loan, in exchange for the return of the Marbles. This would give the museum new artefacts to display, drawing in more visitors, while Greece would get the Parthenon Sculptures back. A win-win situation.

A number of exchanges similar to what was proposed have now taken place in the years since then, Mainly between institutions in the US & Italy.

Past exchanges with Italy involved the threat of legal action, but this one took place entirely voluntarily.

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

Treasures from the Spina necropolis

NBC Dallas Fort Worth

Italy Loans Dallas Museum of Art Installation After Looted Antiquities Returned
Thursday, Oct 31, 2013 | Updated 12:28 PM CDT

The Dallas Museum of Art has agreed to return six antiquities that were looted illegally from Italy. In return, Italy is loaning the DMA an art installation.

In exchange, Italy is loaning the Dallas museum treasures from the Spina necropolis (pictured, above) housed at the Ferrara archaeological museum.
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June 18, 2013

Feds sieze over $100 million in smuggled art from Subhash Kapoor

Posted at 2:07 pm in Similar cases

Federal agents in the USA have siezed artefacts valued at over £100 million over the last two years, from dealer Subhash Kapoor. Kapoor is currently awaiting trial in India & has been described as one of the world’s most prolific antiquity smugglers.

Los Angeles Times

Feds pursue Manhattan art dealer suspected of smuggling
Agents seize art from a Madison Avenue gallery owner, saying evidence could unravel the biggest antiquities smuggling network identified since the 1990s.
By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2013, 5:30 a.m.

Federal agents have seized an estimated $100 million in art over the last two years from a prominent Manhattan antiquities dealer they describe as one of the most prolific antiquities smugglers in the world.

Subhash Kapoor, a 64-year-old American citizen, awaits trial in India, where he is accused of being part of an antiquities smuggling ring that American and Indian investigators say spanned continents. U.S. authorities have issued their own arrest warrant for Kapoor, saying they have evidence he supplied stolen art to leading museums around the world.
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March 12, 2013

Returning the Parthenon Marbles for the legitimacy of the monument

Posted at 1:48 pm in Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Keri Douglas has written a great article about Dr Gary Vikan, the outgoing director of the Walters Art Museum & why he thinks the Parthenon Marbles should be returned to Athens.

His reason is simple – that it is all about the legitimacy of the monument. The sculptures belong to the monument & should be returned.

You can read the full article here.

March 6, 2013

Dallas museum returns looted mosaic to Turkey

Posted at 6:48 pm in Similar cases

Yet again, Turkey is in the news with a resolved restitution case. This time, it involves the Dallas Museum of Art. Interestingly though, the museum was the one that contacted Turkey after discovery that the artefact might have been looted – although whether this was as a pre-emptive move, knowing that they would be contacted by Turkey about it is unclear.

Culture Kiosque

By Culturekiosque Staff

DALLAS, TEXAS, 3 DECEMBER 2012 — The Dallas Museum of Art today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Turkish Director General for Cultural Heritage and Museums O. Murat Süslü, marking the first initiative in the Dallas Museum of Art’s new DMX international exchange program. DMX (Dallas Museum Exchange) is designed to establish international collaborations for the loan of works of art and sharing of expertise in conservation, exhibitions, education, and new media.

The DMA contacted Turkish officials earlier this year when the Museum discovered evidence that a work in the collection — the Orpheus Mosaic — might have been stolen from an archaeological site in Turkey. With the Museum’s planning for the DMX program already underway, the DMA’s engagement with Turkey regarding the mosaic opened the lines of communication that led to Turkey becoming the Museum’s first partner in the DMX program. As part of today’s ceremony for the signing of the MOU, the DMA returned the Orpheus Mosaic to the Turkish officials. The Republic of Turkey considers the voluntary return of the mosaic a sign of good faith, and both parties will undertake to continue their collaboration with museological education, conservation, symposia, and important loan exhibitions.
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University of Pennsylvania museum returns disputed artefacts to Turkey on indefinite loan

Posted at 8:50 am in Similar cases

As part of their ongoing drive to secure the return of disputed artefacts, Turkey appears to have reached an agreement with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, for the return of various artefacts on an indefinite loan. It is interesting, as it shows that for some museums, the idea of an indefinite loan as a solution to issues is a relatively straightforward option – yet, when the possibility has been raised with the British Museum as a means to return the Parthenon Sculptures, Greece has always been told that it is unworkable, and that any loan must have a definite (usually 3-4 month) period attached to it. This is of course, despite the fact that the British Museum itself has also entered into some fairly nebulous loan agreements in the past – and has been on the receiving end of many more (which it presumably does not complain about.


Penn museum lends possibly plundered items to Turkey
September 07, 2012|By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer

Following a scientific analysis that suggested its collection of ancient, Trojan-style gold jewelry was looted from northwestern Turkey, the University of Pennsylvania announced this week that it had lent the 24 items to that country for an indefinite period.

In exchange, the Turkish government pledged to lend other artifacts for a one-year exhibit at Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, including priceless items from Gordion, seat of power of King Midas. The country also promised support for ongoing excavations by Penn scholars within its borders.
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