Showing posts with label HARP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HARP. Show all posts

January 4, 2019

Marc Masurovsky returns to Amelia this summer to teach "Provenance Research, Theory and Practice” at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection

By Edgar Tijhuis

This year, the ARCA Postgraduate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection will be held from May 31 through August 15, 2019 in the heart of Umbria in Amelia, Italy. In the months leading up to the start of the program, this year’s professors will be interviewed. In this one, I am speaking with Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project.

Can you tell us something about your background and work? 

I was born and raised in Paris, France, of American artists, one figurative, the other abstract. I took an early interest in history and especially in the politics and economics of fascism and national socialism.  My interest further increased as I was able to work at the Office of Special Investigations in Washington, DC, investigating the past of suspected Axis war criminals who acquired US citizenship.  Then I was hooked. 

My independent research focused on the economics of genocide and the recycling of all kinds of assets looted from Jewish victims and the near-absence of postwar justice against those who executed, abetted and profited from those crimes against humanity. I eventually found myself involved with class action lawsuits against Swiss banks which led, inevitably, to the looted art issue with which I have been associated for the past two decades. 

I am a co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project and have taught a number of workshops focused exclusively on provenance research as it applies to Nazi/Fascist-era dislocations of Jewish-owned property.

What do you feel is the most relevant of your course?

I teach one course, provenance research. I view it more as a training than as an academic exercise.

What do you hope participants will get out of the courses?

I hope that those who take the provenance research workshop, (that’s really what it is), never look at an artistic, cultural, or ritual object, again with the same eyes as they had before they took the course. I want them to become skeptical of everything that they read about the history of those objects and to develop an insatiable curiosity for understanding where those objects come from and the what/where/when/why/how of their pasts by whom and with what.

What would a typical day be like in your classroom?

Every day is different but a main component of the workshop is to ask questions, remain inquisitive and be able to think outside of the proverbial box. 

While each year participants are very enthusiastic about your courses, is there anything you learn from them in class?

Each participant comes from a very different background and he/she has his/her own unique relationship towards art objects, culture and history. The gift they bring me is their story, and the way they apprehend the topics that we tackle each hour of every day and, hopefully, be part of the transformation that they go through when confronted with evidence, inquiry, and research.

"Göring train" full of art looted by the Nazis
Berchtesgaden, Germany, 1945
Image: Image Credit: William Vandivert, Time & Life Pictures
In anticipation of your courses, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to participants?

There is no real way to get ready but it would help if participants were a bit savvy about the history of modern Europe, the basic dates, times, and places of major events that provoked these displacements of property. Lynn Nicholas, Hector Feliciano, Jonathan Petropoulos, are some of the authors who produced significant monographs on Nazi plunder, but there are also special investigative reports produced in the early 21st century in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Italy, on Nazi looting. 

HARP's own Plundered Art blog will provide a more argumentative and polemical approach to the issues of plunder and restitution, while suggesting how research can be conducted on objects with dubious pasts.

Which other course in the program would you love to follow yourself and why?

I enjoyed sitting in on Dick Drent’s course because it humbled me on my ignorance of security issues in museums.  Perhaps Christos Tsirogiannis’ course would interest me because of his fierce approach towards the art market and his ability to ferret out looted antiquities. But, seriously, I don’t have any favorites out of fairness to the other professors.

Is there anything you can recommend for future participants to do in Amelia or Umbria?

They should leave their prejudices and assumptions at home and come prepared to be challenged in a small town in central Italy. The structure of the workshop allows them to grow. But they can only grow if they allow themselves to be vulnerable, to listen and to question. 

The questioning is only credible if it is anchored in evidence. As you know, it’s too easy to say: Why? You need to justify your questions and to challenge based on your own research and be prepared to hear that perhaps you are wrong and be prepared to realize that perhaps you are right. That is part of learning and growing.


For a detailed prospectus and application materials or for general questions about this postgraduate program please contact us at  

Edgar Tijhuis at the ARCA Library
Edgar Tijhuis is Academic Director at ARCA and visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana. He is responsible for the postgraduate certificate program in the study of art crime and cultural heritage protection. Since 2009, Edgar Tijhuis has taught criminology modules within the ARCA program. 

January 27, 2018

ARCA- HARP - Provenance Research Training Course in Italy

Exhibition in the library of the Collecting Point, summer 1947
© Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte
The Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) and the US-based Holocaust Art Restitution Project, [Inc.] (HARP), a not-for-profit group based in Washington, DC, dedicated to the identification and restitution of looted artworks, have teamed up to offer a unique short course in Amelia, Italy, this summer. This thematic course “Provenance and the challenges of recovering looted assets” will address cultural plunder, undoubtedly one of the thorniest issues facing the art world today.

Course Dates: June 20- 26, 2018  

Open to applicants interested in the restitution/repatriation of looted cultural objects and their trafficking, this 5-day course will provide participants with exposure to the research and ethical considerations of modern-day art restitution. As an added bonus students accepted to the course are automatically registered to attend ARCA’s Amelia Conference, June 22-24, 2018 a weekend-long forum for intellectual and professional exchange which explores the indispensable role of research, detection, crime prevention and criminal justice responses in combating all forms of art crime and the illicit trafficking in cultural property. 

“Provenance and the challenges of recovering looted assets”  will be taught by Marc Masurovsky, the co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project and guest lecturers.  Mr Masurovsky is a historian, researcher, and advocate, specializing in the financial and economic underpinnings of the Holocaust and the Second World War. 

Born and raised in Paris, France, Mr. Masurovsky holds a B.A. in Communications and Critical Cultural Studies from Antioch College and an M.A. in Modern European History from American University in Washington, DC, for which his thesis was on “Operation Safehaven.” He worked at the Office of Special Investigations of the US Department of Justice researching Byelorussian war criminals, locating primary source documents, and interviewing war crimes suspects in North America and Western Europe. As a result of his early work on the transfers of looted assets from the Third Reich to the safety (safehaven) of neutral and Allied nations, Marc Masurovsky advised the Senate Banking Committee in the mid-1990s on the involvement of Swiss banks in the Holocaust, then lent his expertise to plaintiffs’ counsels suing Swiss banks on behalf of Holocaust survivors. 

Since 1997, Marc Masurovsky has focused his attention on the fate of objects of art looted by the Nazis and their Fascist allies. He has also played a major role in the January 1998 seizure of Egon Schiele’s “Portrait of Wally” and “Night City III” at the Museum of Modern Art of New York and was a director of research for the Clinton-era Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States (PCHA). 

Since 2004, Marc Masurovsky has overseen the creation, development and expansion of a fully-searchable, public online database of art objects looted in German-occupied France that transited through the Jeu de Paume in Paris from 1940 to 1944. Marc Masurovsky is co-author of Le Festin du Reich: le pillage de la France, 1940-1944 (2006), and is working on a book on cultural plunder during the Nazi era and its impact on the international art market. 

For more information on the course and how to apply, please see the announcement linked above.

December 5, 2016

Editorial: Is the U.S. State Department's provenance research on immunity from seizure applications from foreign museums adequate?

HARP Editorial: 

For further information contact:

In Washington DC: Marc Masurovsky, 202 255 1602 ,
In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric, 212 260 6090,


Washington, DC, & New York, NY USA – December 05, 2016

Ori Z. Soltes, Chair of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (“HARP”), announced the publication of a study jointly issued by HARP and the Ciric Law Firm, PLLC, which concludes that the U.S. State Department is structurally unable and ill-equipped to perform appropriate provenance research on immunity from seizure applications submitted by foreign museums.

The study (available at, concludes research initiated in In 2014 by HARP, which investigated the U.S. State Department’s ability to perform appropriate provenance research on immunity from seizure requests submitted by foreign museums in accordance with the Immunity from Judicial Seizure statute, 22 U.S. § 2459 (IFSA). To accomplish this research, HARP submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the State Department. Following the State Department’s response, HARP analyzed the State Department’s provenance research process and its procedures for determining the soundness of the borrowing institutions’ applications to immunize objects coming from foreign lenders’ collections.

Based on the FOIA response, the study concludes that the immunization from judicial seizure process relies almost exclusively on attestations made by the lenders, the country desk officers, and the unit of the State Department which certifies cultural significance.  Furthermore, HARP concludes that the State Department is unable to challenge the certifications made by the borrowers.

If the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (S. 3155) becomes law, the systemic inability of the State Department to ensure that the applicant certification is properly supported or documented would create a significant risk for stolen artworks to come into the country through temporary exhibits.

“The State Department’s structural inability to perform appropriate due diligence on incoming exhibits should sound as a warning to everyone, especially to the Senate, which is currently considering S. 3155, that the inadequate administrative process managed by the State Department, combined with a terrible bill which purpose is to completely immunize incoming art exhibits from any claim in the U.S. will create a safe haven for looted cultural property in this country, and will trample the rights of untold numbers of victims of looting by totalitarian regimes, such as Russia or Cuba,” said Soltes.

HARP is a not-for-profit group based in Washington, DC, 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 18 years on the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi regime.

October 31, 2016

What is the Gyeongju Declaration?

The Gyeongju Declaration, was drafted, revised, discussed and ratified, paragraph by paragraph, by all participants at the 6th International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property which took place in Gyeongju, the Republic of Korea, from October 17-19, 2016.

Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea and organized by the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Cultural Property Return Campaign Center, with sponsorship from the Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial Government, the City of Gyeongju, and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO the conference set about to make recommendations that they believe will work to deter the illicit trafficking of cultural property and build capacity and cooperation between countries, restitution experts and civil society.

The recommendations have been printed below in their entirety.

As Mark Masurovsky, an expert presenter attending the meeting and co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) said, recommendations 3 and 4 should be duly noted. 

We, the participants of the “6th International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property," held in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, from 17 to 19 October 2016,

Expressing our sincere gratitude to our hosts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea, to our organizers, the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Cultural Property Return Campaign Center, and last but not least to our sponsors, Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial Government, the City of Gyeongju, and the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, for their outstanding efforts and dedication,

Recognizing that the International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property, which was first proposed by the Republic of Korea in 2011 and whose first session was held in Seoul in the same year, with the second session in Seoul in 2012, third session in Ancient Olympia, Greece in 2013, fourth session in Dunhuang, China in 2014, fifth session in Nevsehir, Turkey in 2015, and sixth session here in Gyeongju, the Republic of Korea this year, has provided precious opportunities for the international community to share its experiences and knowledge on the return of cultural property and join the fight against the illicit trade in cultural property,

Welcoming the U.N. Resolution A/70/76, unanimously adopted in its December 9, 2015 General Assembly meeting and especially the operative paragraph 7 of this Resolution, where for the first time the recent institution of International Conference of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property as well as their concluding documents were recognized,

Recalling the Seoul Declaration (2011), the Seoul Recommendation (2012), the Ancient Olympia Recommendation (2013), the Dunhuang Recommendation (2014), and the Cappadocia Recommendation (2015) adopted by the previous International Conferences of Experts on the Return of Cultural Property.

Noting that international legal instruments, including the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its two protocols (1954 and 1999), the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970), and the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illicitly Exported Cultural Objects (1995), as well as the devoted efforts and subsequently-adopted resolutions of the United Nations (UN) and legal instruments of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), have contributed to the prevention of the illicit trade in cultural property and its return to countries of origin,

Acknowledging that not only international non-governmental organizations, such as the International Council of Museums (ICOM), but also public and private institutions, including museums, libraries, and religious organizations, as well as the general public and local communities, have ever-increasing roles to play in the struggle against the illicit trade in cultural property,

Commending, in particular, that the amicable efforts by Korean civil society and religious organizations to recover illicitly exported cultural property by means of dialogue and mutual exchange cooperating with other foreign institutions in possession thereof have set a positive precedent that can be emulated by numerous states which have similarly suffered from the illicit export of their cultural property,

Observing greater need for administrative and judicial mutual assistance between countries and closer cooperation from auction houses, museums, and libraries in each country to prevent new means of illicit trade in cultural property in the art market, including online sales,

Condemning any uncivilized acts of vandalism directed against cultural property, including the recent destruction and illegal removal of cultural property in the conflict-ridden Middle East and the rest of the world,

Recommend that:

1. Each State should closely cooperate with other States for the return or restitution of illegally exported cultural property and the prevention of the illicit export of cultural property, and reinforce existing networks among public and private organizations, as well as individuals to share and exchange information concerning stolen or illicitly exported cultural property and its restitution;

2. Each State should continue to update the existing inventory of state owned and privately owned cultural property, as well as the databases of stolen or illicitly exported cultural property, and share actively such information with governments, relevant institutions, and non-governmental organizations of other States aiming to establish a common publicly available international platform;

3. Each State should continuously monitor the art market, including online markets, to control the illicit trade in cultural property, raise awareness of the legal and ethical duties of due diligence for participants of such markets, and impose administrative and judicial sanctions, when appropriate;

4. Each State should allocate resources to encourage provenance research, to facilitate licit trade in cultural property, and develop and implement educational programs to share and disseminate the outcomes of such research, thereby improving the capacity of those who work in the area.

5. Museums, libraries, and other public and private organizations that hold cultural property and collections are encouraged to: a) Take appropriate action to facilitate the rapid return of human remains and sacred cultural property when they receive a request for the return of such property, taking into account the wishes of the departed, the interests and beliefs of the members of the community, ethnic group or religious society from whom the property was taken; b) Make every effort before acquisition, in compliance with Article 4.4 of the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention, to ensure that any cultural property offered for purchase, donation, or any other transfer thereof, has clear title, c) Provide their directors, personnel, and volunteers with periodic training and educational sessions to raise awareness of illicit trade in cultural property and endeavor to ensure that the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums is fully complied with;

And also,

6. Auction houses, museums and art dealers should accept for consignment, acquire or trade in cultural property only when they are satisfied that a valid title is held and should make public all available provenance-related information on cultural property;

7. Governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the general public and local communities, private research institutes, museums, libraries, international academic institutions etc. should continue their efforts to further promote the purpose and spirit of this Conference which has been held annually in the Republic of Korea, Greece, China, and Turkey since 2011, respectively, for prohibiting and preventing illicit trade in cultural property and promoting return or restitution of illicitly exported or stolen cultural property.

ARCA would like to thank all of the participants for their participation and contribution to this process.

February 25, 2015

Provenance Research Training Program To Be Held in New York This Spring

In Washington, DC: Marc Masurovsky, (00) 1 202 255 1602 ,
In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric (00) 1 212 260 6090,

The Holocaust Art Restitution Project, (“HARP”), based in Washington, DC, chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, and the Ciric LawFirm, PLLC, a law firm based in New York City, has announced the first art-related provenance research training program to be held in the New York area between April 16, 2015 and May 01, 2015 at New York Law School.  This unique professional training program, a collaboration effort between HARP and the Center for International Law at New York Law School will be held on:

     April 16-17 2015
     April 23-24, 2015
     April 30-May 1, 2015

The training program, taught by Ori Z. Soltes and Marc Masurovsky, has been designed to assist the legal community and art market professionals who are currently affected by the presence of artistic, cultural, and ritual objects which have been displaced through acts of war and genocide between 1933 and 1945, with an emphasis on those items misappropriated during the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the Second World War. Led by experts in the fields of historical and provenance research, this training program will assist participants in assessing the lawful or illicit ownership of these objects. 

A detailed program flier of the three, 2-day workshops can be found below. The cost of the program is $3500. 

Applications can be submitted here.

November 9, 2013

Saturday, November 09, 2013 - , No comments

Gurlitt Art Collection: HARP Calls on the German Government to Immediately Disclose a Detailed and Complete Inventory of the Cornelius Gurlitt Collection and Set Up a Commission to Hasten Restitution of Nazi-Looted Artworks to Holocaust Victims and Their Heirs

Washington, DC, USA – November 8, 2013 - The Holocaust Art Restitution Project ( HARP), based in Washington, DC, chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, has called on the German Government to immediately publish a full, detailed and complete inventory of the Cornelius Gurlitt art collection, and to set up a Commission to hasten the restitution process of Nazi-looted artworks to Holocaust victims and their heirs.

Following the disclosure by the weekly magazine Focus that the German Government has been in control of the Cornelius Gurlitt collection for several years, HARP, through its legal counsel, sent a letter to the German Ministry of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, calling on the German Government to immediately disclose a full, complete, and detailed inventory of this collection, and to establish a Commission to hasten the process of identification and restitution of any Nazi-looted artwork found in this collection.

Any delay in implementing these steps would constitute grave injury to both the art market which requires that full and complete diligence be performed on any transaction, and to Holocaust survivors who have been looking for their artworks since 1945,” the letter states, which was also shared with Reinhard Nemetz, the Head of Augsburg State Prosecutor’s Office in charge of investigating Cornelius Gurlitt.

HARP is a not-for-profit group based in Washington, DC, and chaired by Ori Z. Soltes, dedicated to the identification and restitution of looted artworks require detailed research and analysis of public and private archives in North America. HARP has worked for 16 years on the restitution of artworks looted by the Nazi regime.  HARP was notably involved in the "Portrait of Wally" case, where a Schiele painting was seized by the U.S. Government, as well as in the restitution of an “Odalisque”, a painting by Henri Matisse, to the Rosenberg family.

HARP is advised and represented by the Ciric Law Firm Firm, PLLC in New York, USA.

October 10, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013 - , No comments

The Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and the Ciric Law Firm, PLLC Sponsor Art Law CLE Program: Due Diligence in Cultural Heritage Litigation: Is There a Minimum Threshold?

Friday, October 11, 2013
8:00 AM to 1:00 PM (PDT)
Leo Baeck Institute | 212-294-8301
15 W 16th St
New York, NY 10011

This course will discuss the current legal standard defining due diligence, its limitations, and the varied approaches attempting to address due diligence requirements in the market, and provide a suggested framework and associated checklist to satisfy due diligence requirements in provenance research for cultural objects.  The courts have the means to enforce proper ownership rights of current possessors, good faith purchasers, and rightful owners, yet the market is encountering significant challenges in implementing due diligence standards to comply with legal requirements and stabilize the trade.

8:00am-8:45am: Welcome/Sign-in
8:45am-8:50am: Introduction
8:50am-10:05am: Have You Done Your Due Diligence?
10:05 am-10:15am: Break
10:15am-11:30am: Is Context Everything?
11:30am-11:40am Break
11:40pm-12:55pm: Do Your Research-Your Provenance Research
12:55 pm-1:00pm: Conclusion

Sharon Levin-Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
Charles A. Goldstein-Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Member, Art Law Group
Lawrence M. Kaye-Herrick, Feinstein LLP, Co-Chair, Art Law Group
Monica Dugot- Christie’s, Senior VP, International Director of Restitution
Lucian Simmons-Sotheby’s, Senior VP of Sotheby’s in New York, Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Restitution Team
Victoria S. Reed-Museum of Fine Arts, Monica S. Sadler Curator for Provenance
Lucille A. Roussin- Ph.D-Law Office of Lucille A. Roussin; Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law
Irina Tarsis-Center for Art Law, Attorney at Law, Consultant, Program Coordinator
Ori Z. Soltes-Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Co-Founder
Marc J. Masurovsky-Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Co-Founder
Pierre Ciric-The Ciric Law Firm, PLLC

CLE CREDITS (Accreditation Pending)
4.0 (1.5 - Ethics & Professionalism; 1.0 - Skills; 1.5 - Areas of Professional Practice)