Showing posts with label Holocaust restitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holocaust restitution. Show all posts

November 2, 2020

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

Press Contacts:  

In Washington, DC: Marc Masurovsky, (00) 1 202 255 1602 , plunderedart@gmail.com

In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric (00) 1 212 260 6090, pciric@ciriclawfirm.com

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).

July 4, 2020

Exploring Stolen Memory

Personal Effects of Antonio Amigo Sanchez.
In January 2018, in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, a traveling exhibition produced by the Arolsen Archives – the International Center on Nazi Persecution, (known as the International Tracing Service, ITS, or the Internationaler Suchdienst in German up until May 2019) was hosted at UNESCO in Paris.  Commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz on January 27th, the large-format poster exhibition highlighted a collection of around 3,000 personal belongings, from concentration camp inmates, which the former ITS archive hopes to be able to return to families.

Inside the the Arolsen Archives
Titled Stolen Memory, each poster in the exhibit showed the names of people as well as photos of the objects these prisoners carried with them when they were arrested by the National Socialists more than seven decades ago.  Simple things, like pocket and wristwatches, wallets and rings, a cherished family photo, or shopping coupons, or a utilitarian pocket comb.  Each one is a poignant and very personal reminder of the day these individuals were stripped of their freedom, and in most cases, eventually, their lives.

At the close of World War II the SS, attempting to cover their tracks, destroyed most of these prisoner traces, together with most of the documents connecting objects to their victims when many of the concentration camps were cleared. Yet, a small inventory has been preserved where tracing them to an individual victim is possible, mostly from the Neuengamme concentration camp system in northern Germany, as well as some objects from Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. 

Sadly, few personal effects of Jewish prisoners survived.  Those that do belong mostly to members of the Jewish community in Budapest, who were not deported directly to the gas chambers at the end of 1944, but were first shipped to Germany and used as forced laborers in the arms industry.

With brutal matter of fact record-keeping, Nazis bookkeepers at concentration camps like Neuengamme recorded the property of its prisoners by name, keeping them until their murder, or until they dropped dead from "Vernichtung durch Arbeit" the practice in concentration camps in Nazi Germany of exterminating prisoners by means of forced labour.  This written testimony of persecution has been essential, not only for tracing missing persons and their effects but also for documenting the atrocities carried out by the National Socialist machinery of terror.

The majority of the personal items in the Arolsen Archives salvaged after the war belong to political prisoners and detained forced laborers from Poland, Russia and the Ukraine though some objects are also the last memories of victims as far away as Spain. 

Now, a digital story-telling version of the Stolen Memory initiative can be experienced online.  Here, web participants can view objects owned by 14 former prisoners of the concentration camp Auschwitz, which tell the stories of just a few of the victims of Nazi politics.   Of the more than 5000 objects tied to individuals collected by the archivists, some 3000 still lie on the shelves.  For families, getting them back is a painful, if precious recovery, because often those effects represent the only traces of their lost loved ones they have, most of whom never returned home.

Take a look here and perhaps help find the rightful owners of these memories.


March 13, 2020

Supreme Court Decision on the Legal Status of Famous Picasso Painting

On March 2, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a case disputing who should own the Pablo Picasso masterwork, “The Actor,” created around 1904-05.  The painting was once owned by Jewish industrialist Paul Leffmann, who sold the artwork under duress for $12,000 in 1938, after leaving Germany in 1937 in order to fund his move from Italy to Switzerland. At the time in history, Italy was ruled by Benito Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.

ARCA extends its thanks the Holocaust Art Restitution Project  who continue to follow cases like this, as well as all the lawyers who worked on legal aspects of the case.  Each remind us that we need to continue to try to right the wrongs of the past and where possible consider the lingering and painful effects of the horrific circumstances faced by individuals like the Leffmanns under the Nazi and Fascist regimes. 

With the Supreme Court's decision, Paul Leffmann's great-grand-niece has no other recourse tham to visit her family's painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 


February 2, 2020

Supreme Court Asked to Consider Legal Status of Famous Picasso Painting

A petition for writ of certiorari has been filed asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling dismissing a case against New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for the return of a Pablo Picasso masterwork, “The Actor,” created around 1904-05.

Jewish refugee Paul Leffmann sold the painting under duress in 1938, because of Nazi and Fascist persecution, when he and his wife Alice, having already escaped Germany, sought to flee a fast-Nazifying Italy. The purchasers were art dealer Hugo Perls and Pablo Picasso’s own dealer Paul Rosenberg, a French art dealer who represented Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse.

Not satisfied with an appellate court decision affirming the dismissal of the family’s claim to the painting as having been filed too late, Laurel Zuckerman, Paul Leffmann's great grand-niece, through her attorneys, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear her case.  The Supreme Court grants around 100 of the 7,000+ petitions it gets each year, focusing on cases of national significance,or  those which might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts. 

According to Zuckerman’s petition, her case raises an issue of nationwide importance concerning the HEAR Act: whether, “despite the introduction of a nationwide statute of limitations designed to revive Holocaust-era restitution claims,” the Act still allows the laws of each of the 50 states to declare a claim untimely, and to thereby put up additional roadblocks to the very Holocaust era claims Congress encouraged under the HEAR Act. 

Zuckerman, representing the estate of Alice Leffmann, had sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2016, asserting in court papers that the museum does not hold good title to the painting because the businessman was forced to sell this artwork at a low price, under pressure, in order to finance their flight from Italy given the actions of the Nazi-allied Mussolini-led government and anti-jewish climate at the time in Western Europe.  The Nazis had already stripped the Leffmans of their home and business. Having lost in the district court, the case was then brought up on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

The appellate court agreed that the case was properly dismissed. 

The appellate court's ruling noted that the federal Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016 (known as the HEAR Act), designed to help facilitate the recovery of art and other prized possessions unlawfully lost because of Nazi persecution, needs to provide “some measure of justice, even if incomplete,” to the victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs.  However, the court sided with the New York museum stating that it would be unfair for the Metropolitan to relinquish the Picasso, given the "unreasonable" delay in demanding its return.  The appellate court noted: "This is not a case where the identity of the buyer was unknown to the seller or the lost property was difficult to locate." 

The cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court raises two challenges to the appellate court ruling. First, “whether the nonstatutory defense of laches may bar an action to recover artwork lost because of Nazi persecution, where that action has been brought within the statute of limitations prescribed by Congress” in the HEAR Act. And second, whether a case can be dismissed so early without a factual exploration of the laches defense urging undue delay raised by the Museum. 

Zuckerman is represented by Mary- Christine SUNGAILA, Will Feldman, and Marco Pulido at Haynes and Boone, LLP, in the case before the Supreme Court.  Zuckerman was represented in the trial court and continues to be represented on appeal by Lawrence Kaye, Howard Spiegler, Ross Hirsch, and Yael Weitz of Herrick, Feinstein LLP.

November 7, 2019

Exhibition commemorating the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht: Treasured Belongings: The Hahn Family & the Search for a Stolen Legacy


In commemoration of the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht, the state-sponsored pogrom known as the “Night of Broken Glass” which took place November 9-10, 1938, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) is hosting an speaking engagement Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 7:00 pm featuring Dr. Michael Hayden, MC, OBC followed by the opening of a special exhibition which is then scheduled to remain at the centre for a little more than one year.

The event Kristallnacht Commemoration and Dr. Hayden's talk will be streamed online on Facebook tonight, November 7th at 7pm (PST).

Dates:  
November 8, 2019 – November 27, 2020
Location:  
Wosk Auditorium, Jewish Community Centre Greater Vancouver
950 West 41 Avenue
VANCOUVER, BC October 23, 2019

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) is an acclaimed teaching museum devoted to Holocaust based anti-racism education.  

Treasured Belongings: The Hahn Family & the Search for a Stolen Legacy brings together items from the Hahn archive alongside rich artefacts to detail the story of the family, their collection, and their descendants’ restitution efforts and exhibition speaks to timely themes of cultural loss, reconciliation and intergenerational legacy.

During Kristallnacht hundreds of synagogues in Germany and Austria were burned, Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed, nearly 100 Jews were killed and 30,000 were sent to concentration camps.

Kristallnacht was a turning point in the Nazi persecution of European Jews and a defining moment for Max and Gertrud Hahn of Göttingen, Germany. 

Born in Göttingen, Germany in 1880, Max Hahn was a successful businessman, civic leader and passionate collector.  The Hahn’s Judaica collection was one of the most significant private collections in pre-war Europe, rivalling those of the Rothschild and Sassoon families. During the Kristallnacht pogrom, Max was arrested, and the Nazis proceeded to confiscate his silver Judaica and strip the family of their property and possessions. 

With the support of his wife, Gertrud, Max engaged in a lengthy battle to retrieve his stolen collection. While their children, Rudolf (later Roger Hayden) and Hanni, were sent to England for safety in 1939, Max and Gertrud were deported to Riga in December 1941, where they ultimately perished. Most of their collection was never recovered.

Roger’s son, Dr. Michael Hayden, MC, OBC, became immersed in his remarkable family history when he encountered photographs and documents left to him by his father. This original exhibition, developed by the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, brings together items from the Hahn archive alongside rich artefacts and interviews to detail the story of the Hahn family, their collection, and their descendants’ restitution efforts. Involving extensive research and intensive negotiations with German museums and archives, the family’s ongoing search for their stolen collection speaks to timely themes of cultural loss, reconciliation and intergenerational legacy.

The Exhibition is supported by Michael and Sandy Hayden and children, the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Vancouver, the Isaac and Sophie Waldman Endowment Fund of the Vancouver Foundation, Isaac and Judy Thau, Yosef Wosk, Audre Jackson, and the Goldie and Avrum Miller Memorial Endowment Fund of the VHEC.

The Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre (VHEC) is Western Canada’s leading Holocaust teaching museum, reaching more than 25,000 students annually and producing acclaimed exhibitions, innovative school programs and teaching materials. The VHEC is a leader in Holocaust education in British Columbia, dedicated to promoting human rights, social justice and genocide awareness, and to teaching about the causes and consequences of discrimination, racism and antisemitism through education and remembrance of the Holocaust.

January 28, 2019

New Course in Provenance Research, Theory and Practice

Photo taken by Nazi authorities during World War II
showing a room filled with stolen art
at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris
Recognizing that reclaiming looted cultural assets can feel like a Sisyphean task, and that restitution cannot be accomplished without the practical knowledge of how to conduct critical research, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) and the US-based Holocaust Art Restitution Project, [Inc.] (HARP), have teamed up to offer its 3rd annual stand-alone provenance course which tackles the complex issues of cultural plunder.

Course Title: “Provenance and the Challenges of Recovering Looted Assets,”
Course Dates: June 19- 25, 2019 
Course Location: Amelia, Italy

Exhibition in the library of the Collecting Point, summer 1947
© Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte

Open to applicants interested in exploring the ownership history of looted cultural objects, their trafficking and their restitution/repatriation, this 5-day course will provide participants with exposure to research methodologies used to clarify and unlock the past history of objects likely to have been displaced in periods of crisis. It will also examine the complex nuances of post war and post conflict restitution and repatriation, as well as its ethical underpinnings.

Taught by Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of HARP, and former director of the Provenance Research Training Program at the Prague-based European Shoah Legacy Institute (ESLI), the course will provide participants with the opportunity to engage in an intensive, guided, dynamic exchange of ideas on research methods while highlighting the multiple diplomatic, political and financial challenges raised by restitution and repatriation claims. Special emphasis will also be placed on the contextual framework of provenance research in an era increasingly reliant on digital tools.

With an emphasis on an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, this provenance course will benefit anyone with an interest in art, art history, art collecting, the global art market writ large, museum and curatorial studies, art and international law, national and international cultural heritage policies.

As an added bonus participants accepted into the 5 day course will automatically registered be registered to attend ARCA’s Amelia Conference, June 21-23, 2019 a weekend-long forum of 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. 

For more information on the course, course fees and how to apply, please see this link.

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 education@artcrimeresearch.org  


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. 

August 1, 2018

Sad Conclusion: The case is von Saher v Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 16-58308.

The protracted multi-million dollar lawsuit regarding the 480-year-old paintings of Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder at the Norton Simon Museum that has lasted more than ten years has now come to a close.  A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a unanimous decision, has ruled in favour of the museum and not Marei von Saher, the sole surviving heir of the Dutch-Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, who has long sought to recover her father in law’s artworks, looted during the Second World War. 

Throughout this protracted judicial process, Saher, had sought the return of the two 500-year-old biblical-themed paintings, which at one point had been appraised at $24 million.  

Jacques Goudstikker was once considered to be the preeminent dealer of Old Master paintings in Amsterdam and is estimated to have amassed an extraordinary collection of some 1400 works of art of the course of his professional career.  When Germany began its assault on Holland on May 10, 1940, Goudstikker knew that his family's time was up. As Rotterdam burned and the Nazi invasion under Reichsmarschall Göring gained speed, Goudstikker, his young wife Désirée von Halban Kurtz, and their infant son Edo boarded the SS Bodegraven, a ship docked at the port city of IJmuiden, departing for England and then on its way to the Americas. 

Goudstikker inventory of property

Unable to transport his collection with him, Goudstikker carried a neatly typed inventory of his property in a black leather notebook.  This notebook detailed artworks by important Dutch and Flemish artists like Jan Mostaert and Jan Steen, as well as works by Peter Paul Rubens, Giotto, Pasqualino Veneziano, Titian, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh as well as the Cranachs.  Unfortunately, in a further tragic twist of fate, Goudstikker lost his life on his journey to safety, breaking his neck in an accidental fall through an uncovered hatch just two days into the departing ship's voyage.

In less than a week after the German Luftwaffe of the Third Reich crossed into Dutch airspace, Dutch commanding general General Henry G. Winkelman surrendered and the country fell under German occupation.   As a result, Amsterdam came under a civilian administration overseen by the Reichskommissariat Niederlande, which was dominated by the Schutzstaffel.  

Goudstikker's collection was quickly liquidated in a forced sale typical of many World War II -era art thefts.  Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring himself cherry picked many of the choicest art works, including these two 6-1/4 foot (1.9 meters) tall Cranach panels. Göring went on to send more than 800 paintings to Germany, some of which were hung in his private collection at Karinhall, his country estate near Berlin.

On Monday, July 30, 2018, the three-judge panel with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is the U.S. Federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Alaska, Arizona and the Central District of California applied “the act of state doctrine,” validated the 1966 sale of the paintings by the Dutch government, which by then owned them, to George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff who in turn sold them to the Norton Simon in 1971.

“The act of state doctrine,” limits the ability of U.S. courts, in certain instances, from determining the legality of the acts of a sovereign state within that sovereign's own territory and is often applied in appropriations disputes which immunizes foreign nations from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts when certain conditions are satisfied.

The judges held that in order for von Saher’s claim to have been upheld, the  court would have been required to invalidate the official acts of the Dutch government. Specifically, the Dutch government’s conveyance of the paintings to Stroganoff-Scherbatoff would have needed to have been deemed legally inoperative.  Additionally the panel would have needed to disregard both the Dutch government’s 1999 decision not to restore von Saher’s rights to the paintings, and its later statement that her claim to the paintings had “been settled.”

To view the Judges' opinion entirety, please download the file from the ARCA website here.

By:  Lynda Albertson

February 15, 2018

An appeal that could have a strong legal significance on Holocaust-era claims in the United States

The protracted multi-million dollar lawsuit regarding the 480-year-old paintings of Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder at the Norton Simon Museum has lasted more than ten years.  The lawsuit against the museum, began with a quest undertaken by Marei von Saher, the sole surviving heir of the Dutch-Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, who has long sought to recover her father in law’s artworks, looted during the Second World War.   Throughout this lengthy process, Saher, has sought the return of two 500-year-old biblical-themed paintings, appraised at $24 million.  

Jacques Goudstikker was once considered to be the preeminent dealer of Old Master paintings in Amsterdam and is estimated to have amassed an extraordinary collection of some 1400 works of art of the course of his professional career.  When Germany began its assault on Holland on May 10, 1940, Goudstikker knew that his family's time was up. As Rotterdam burned and the Nazi invasion under Reichsmarschall Göring gained speed, Goudstikker, his young wife Désirée von Halban Kurtz, and their infant son Edo boarded the SS Bodegraven, a ship docked at the port city of IJmuiden, departing for England and then on its way to the Americas. 


Unable to transport his collection with him, Goudstikker carried a neatly typed inventory of his property in a black leather notebook.  This notebook detailed artworks by important Dutch and Flemish artists like Jan Mostaert and Jan Steen, as well as works by Peter Paul Rubens, Giotto, Pasqualino Veneziano, Titian, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh and many others.  Unfortunately, in a further tragic twist of fate, Goudstikker lost his life on his journey to safety, breaking his neck in an accidental fall through an uncovered hatch just two days into the ship's voyage.

In less than a week after the German Luftwaffe of the Third Reich crossed into Dutch airspace, Dutch commanding general General Henry G. Winkelman surrendered and the country fell under German occupation.   As a result, Amsterdam came under a civilian administration overseen by the Reichskommissariat Niederlande, which was dominated by the Schutzstaffel.  

Goudstikker's collection was quickly liquidated in a forced sale typical of many World War II -era art thefts.  Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring himself cherry picked many of the choicest art works, sending more than 800 paintings to Germany.   Some of which were hung in Göring's private collection at Karinhall, his country estate near Berlin.

On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, a three-judge panel with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is the U.S. Federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in Alaska, Arizona and the Central District of California heard oral arguments from Von Saher’s attorney, Lawrence Kaye from Herrick Feinstein on the return of the paintings from the Norton Simon Museum.  

In his presentation, Kaye disagreed with U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter's earlier ruling that the Norton Simon Museum is the rightful owner of the paintings on the basis that the Dutch government couldn't assert ownership of artwork it received through external restitution.  In his oral statements he asserted that:


Whatever decision the Appellate court makes in this case will have broad legal ramifications for how forced sale restitution cases are heard in the US Courts.  When the arguments conclude, the judges' panel will either uphold the ruling of the lower court in favor of the Norton Simon Museum,  reverse the earlier decision in favor of von Saher, or send the case back down to the lower court for trial. 

By:  Lynda Albertson

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.

January 6, 2018

Conference - “20 years of the Washington Principles: Challenges for the Future”



Location: 

Berlin, Germany

Date: 

Monday-Wednesday, November 26-28, 2018.

Cost:
Details Forthcoming

Presenters: 
To be Announced

Attended by Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel and former US-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the 1998 Washington DC conference, hosted by the US Department of State and the Holocaust Memorial Museum, in order to develop a statement concerning the restitution of art confiscated by the Nazi regime in Germany before and during World War II.  This statement, sometimes referred to as "The Washington Declaration" or the "Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art", was developed to address the issue of assets and provided eleven non-binding principles on dealing with material confiscated by the Nazis.  The document specifically dealt with art and insurance, as well as communal property, archives, books, and built on remaining gold issues following the Nazi Gold conference which had been held in London in December 1997.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of this meeting, the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste [DZK or German Lost Art Foundation] will be sponsoring an international conference scheduled to take place in Berlin, Germany from November 26 through November 28, 2018.

The conference is being organized with the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz  [the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation] and the Kulturstiftung des Bundes [the Cultural Foundation of the German Federal States].

Please see the Holocaust Art Restitution Project for more details as they become available. 





November 29, 2017

Max Stern: His art legacy and an abruptly cancelled exhibition of works from the on Galerie Stern in Düsseldorf

Photo Credit : Concordia University - 1952 AP file photo of Max Stern
and his wife, Iris, reviewing an advertisement showing art from his lost collection. 
By: Angelina Giovani

Max Stern was born on April 18, 1904 in Mönchen-Gladbach, Germany to Selma Heilbron and Julius Stern, an important jewish art collector who would later become one of Düsseldorf’s leading art gallery owners. He was the youngest child and had two sisters, Hedi and Gerda. He studied art history in Vienna, Cologne, and Berlin, completing his Dr. Phil. in 1928 at the University of Bonn. His doctoral dissertation was on the accumulated works of German painter Johann Peter von Langer (1756-1824) and was published in 1930 by Kurt Schroeder.

Max Stern started working as a manager at the Galerie Julius Stern in 1928 though it wasn’t until his father’s passing in 1938 that he inherited the family's businesses interests both inside and outside of Germany. Unfortunately, the coming years coincided with the rise of Nazism and the gallery faced all the expected difficulties inherent with being a Jewish-owned business, ultimately resulting in his family's roughly 400-piece collection being liquidated. The Reich Chamber of Fine Arts (German: Reichskammer Der bildenden Künste (RKdbK)) which was established on September 22, 1933 and replaced the Federal Association of German Art and Antiques Dealers (German: Bundesverband Deutscher Kunst- und Antiquitätenhändler (BDKA)) under which dealers like Max Stern had formerly been organized.

In order for people of these professions to be able to practice, they needed to be granted membership by the RKdbK, something denied to Max Stern. For racial reasons he could no longer hold auctions after 1933 and on August 29, 1935, Stern received a final confirmation letter that he needed to liquidate his business within a three-month period. From that point onwards he was also prohibited from practicing his profession as an art dealer. Responding to the growing threat of Nazism, his sister Hedi moved to London and in 1936, together with a former associate from Düsseldorf, Cornelis J.W. van de Wetering, and opened West’s Galleries Limited in London.

By March 1937, Max Stern had sold the two gallery buildings on Königsallee 23-25 in Düsseldorf to the insurance company Allianz, as well as the Stern family home.  Having given up hopes of being able to save his business interests in Germany, he auctioned off the remainder of his gallery stock, some 200+ paintings, and immediately after departed the country on December 23, 1937 due to the deteriorating situation.  

Stern arrived in Paris with nothing more than one piece of hand luggage. He then travelled on to London where over the next year he joined his sister at West’s Galleries. In the meantime, the Gestapo proceeded to confiscate some of Stern's paintings which he had left with Josef Rogendorf, a shipping agent in Köln.

After travelling between France, the UK and Canada and spending years in internment, Max Stern finally settled in Montreal joining the Dominion Gallery of Fine Art in 1941. In 1942, thanks to his knowledge and expertise, he was made director of the company and started his mission to turn the gallery into the leading platform for the representation of living artists. He organized exhibitions for Joseph Fernand Henri Léger, John Lyman, Emily Carr, Stanley Cosgrove, Goodridge Roberts, and others.

By 1946, Max Stern had already began his recovery efforts and travelled to London to recover some paintings and his library. Soon after that, in 1947, Stern and his wife, Iris Ester Westerberg,  whom he married in New York on January 15, 1946, become owners of Montreal's Dominion Gallery (French: Galerie Dominion). In the years to come, the Dominion gallery, which had relocated to 1438 Sherbrooke Street, held major exhibitions on artists like François Auguste René Rodin and Edward J. Hughes, as well as a major exhibition of international sculpture.

In 1987, Max Stern died of a heart attack while on a trip to Paris. He left the bulk of his estate, including any potential recovery of lost artworks, to the charitable Dr. and Mrs. Max Stern Foundation.  The Foundation benefits three non-profit institutions:  Concordia University (Montreal), McGill University (Montreal), and Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel).  His private art collection was bequeathed to a large number of museums in Canada, the United States and Israel, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art  (French: Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (MBAM)), the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (French: Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal), and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. His library collection, consisting of around 3000 books, was ceded jointly to Concordia and McGill Universities and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The Max Stern Art Restitution Project was created in 2002 and Concordia was mandated to direct the restitution issues brought forth by the circulation in the art market of works belonging to the Stern Galerie in Düsseldorf. The Estate’s right to claim the artworks was acknowledged by the Holocaust Claims Processing office in New York and the missing works are registered with numerous stolen art and claims databases, as well as with the Commission of Looted Art in Europe. Lawyer and looted art specialist Willi Korte has since been the chief investigator of this project.

Recently the city of Düsseldorf abruptly announced that it had decided to cancel the upcoming and much anticipated exhibition on Galerie Stern at the city’s Stadtmuseum. The travelling exhibition, which has been in preparation for the past three years, was to open first in Düsseldorf in February 2018 and from there travel onward to the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel before finally concluding at the McCord Museum in Montreal.

The exhibition would have brought forward issues which emphasize the problems of ownership history emphasizing transparency and education as crucial aspects of forwarding provenance research and restitution. The reason given by the city government for the cancellation of the exhibition was stated as “the current demands for information and restitution in German museums in connection with the “Galerie Max Stern.”  City authorities have indicated they intend to replace the exhibition with a symposium on the Stern’s legacy next autumn. 

If readers are interested in expressing their concerns about the cancellation of the Max Stern traveling exhibit at the Stadtmuseum Dusseldorf, please feel free to send an email to the Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel at:
thomas.Geisel@duesseldorf.de

Or add your name to this Change.org petition asking Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel to reverse his decision and reinstate the exhibition. 

References used in this blog post

https://www.concordia.ca/arts/max-stern/chronologies.html#estate
http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/stern/chronology.html
http://www.lostart.de/Content/02_Aktuelles/2014/Stern%20Schadow%20Chronology.pdf?__blob=publicationFile
http://www.restitutiecommissie.nl/en/recommendations/recommendation_196.html
http://theartnewspaper.com/news/dusseldorf-abruptly-cancels-exhibition-about-jewish-dealer-max-stern
https://thewalrus.ca/the-secret-life-of-max-stern/

February 4, 2017

Conference - From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational Perspective.


Location: 
University of Cambridge
Newnham College - Cambridge Lucia Windsor Room
Cambridge, UK 

Dates:  
March 23-24, 2017 

Cost: 35£ (25£ for students)
Attendees are asked to register by 1 March 2017 by emailing the conference organizers 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Opening remarks

Panel I. A Paradigm Shift? From Legal to Moral Solutions in Restitution Practice

Commentator: Victoria Louise Steinwachs (Sotheby’s London)

– Debbie De Girolamo (Queen Mary, University of London), ‘Fair & Just Solutions – A Moniker for Moral Solutions?’

 – Tabitha I. Oost (University of Amsterdam), ‘Restitution policies of Nazi- looted art in The Netherlands and the UK. A change from a legal to a moral paradigm?’

 – Evelien Campfens (Leiden University), ‘Bridging the gap between ethics and law in looted art: the case for a transnational soft-law approach’

Panel II. Loosing Art/Loosing Identity: the Emotions of Material Culture

Commentator: Bianca Gaudenzi (Cambridge/Konstanz)

– Emily Löffler (Landesmuseum Mainz), ‘The J-numbers-collection in Landesmuseum Mainz. A case study on provenance, material culture, & emotions’

 – Michaela Sidenberg (Jewish Museum, Prague), ‘Rescue/Ransom/Restitution: The struggle to preserve the collective memory of Czech and Moravian Jews’

 – Mary Kate Cleary (Art Recovery Group, New York), ‘Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: self-portraits of a woman artist as a refugee’

Roundtable I. From Theory to Practice: Provenance Research in Museums

Chair: Robert Holzbauer (Leopold Museum, Vienna)

– Tessa Rosebrock (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe), ‘Inventory records as a dead-end. On the purchases of French drawings by the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe from 1965 to 1990’

 – Laurel Zuckerman (Independent Researcher, Bry sur Marne), ‘Art Provenance Databases: Are They Fulfilling Their Promise? Comparative evaluation of ten major museum databases in the USA and the UK’

 – Shlomit Steinberg (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), ‘What started as a trickle turned into a flow- restitution at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem’

 – Emmanuelle Polack (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris), ‘Ethical issues regarding the restitution of Henri Matisse’s Blue Profile in front of the Chimney (1937) or Profil bleu devant la cheminée (1937)’

Friday March 24, 2017

Panel III. The Postwar Art Market: The Impact of a Changing World

Commentator: Richard Aronowitz-Mercer (Sotheby’s London)

– Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam), ‘Switzerland and Britain: Recontextualizing Fluchtgut’

 – Maike Brueggen (Independent Provenance Researcher, Frankfurt), ‘Arthur Kauffmann – dealing German art in post-war London’

 – Nathalie Neumann (Independent Researcher, Berlin), ‘Have the baby born in England!’ The trans-European itinerary (1933-1941) of the art collector Julius Freund’

 – Diana Kostyrko (Australian National University, Canberra), ‘Mute Witness: the Polish Poetess’

Panel IV. Restitution Initiatives and Postwar Politics in the United Kingdom

Commentator: Simone Gigliotti (Royal Holloway University of London)

– Elizabeth Campbell (University of Denver), ‘Monuments Woman: Anne O. Popham and British Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art’

 – Marc Masurovsky (Holocaust Art Restitution Project), ‘Operation Safehaven (1944-49): Framing the postwar discussion on restitution of Nazi looted art through British lenses’

 – Angelina Giovani (Jewish Claims Conference - Jeu de Paume Database), - A case study: ‘Looting the artist: The modern British paintings that never came back from France’

Panel V. Conflicting Interests: Restitution, National Politics and Vergangenheitsbewältigung across Postwar Europe

Commentator: Lisa Niemeyer (Independent Researcher, Wiesbaden)

– Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig (Wiesbaden Museum), ‘Pechora monastery, Russian collection looted by ERR and landed in Wiesbaden CCP’

 – Jennifer Gramer (University of Wisconsin-Madison), ‘Dangerous or Banal? Nazi Art & American Occupation in Postwar Germany and US’

 – Agata Wolska (Independent researcher, Krakow), ‘The Vaucher Committee as International Restitution Body – the Abandoned Idea’

 – Nicholas O’Donnell (Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Boston), ‘Comparison of statutory & regulatory origins of restitutionary commissions in Germany, Austria, NL & UK after WWII’

Roundtable II. From Theory to Practice: Provenance & the Art Market

Chair: Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam)

– Friederike Schwelle (Art Loss Register, London), ‘The difference between US and UK in resolving claims for Nazi looted art’

 – Isabel von Klitzing (Provenance Research & Art Consulting, Frankfurt) and Pierre Valentin (Constantine Cannon LLP, London), ‘From Theory to practice – when collectors want to do the right thing?’

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 , plunderedart@gmail.com
In New York, NY: Pierre Ciric, 212 260 6090, pciric@ciriclawfirm.com

HOLOCAUST ART RESTITUTION PROJECT STUDY: THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT IS STRUCTURALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM APPROPRIATE PROVENANCE RESEARCH ON IMMUNITY FROM SEIZURE APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED BY FOREIGN MUSEUMS

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 http://plundered-art.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-us-department-of-state-is.html), 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.

November 12, 2016

Art Restitution: Tate Completes Restitution Process of Looted Constable Painting

Constable's 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton' (1824) will be returned to
its heirs on the recommendation of the UK's Spoliation Advisory Panel
London’s Tate Museum has, at long last, restituted John Constable’s painting, Beaching a Boat, Brighton to its rightful owners. The Tate returned the painting to the heirs of Baron Ferenc Hatvany, a Hungarian Jewish painter and art collector, after it emerged that the work had been looted during the second World War.  The painting was once part of  Baron Hatvany’s larger collection, one of the finest, if not the largest (a distinction belonging to the Herzog’s) art collections in Budapest.  By the early 1940s, his collection comprised of some 750-900 works of art.  

Hatvany was forced to store this, and several other artworks, in a Budapest bank vault against the threat of possible Allied bombing, before ultimately being forced to flee the city when the Nazis arrived. The Russian Army then entered Budapest in 1945 and seized the Hatvany collection, leading to long-standing legal disputes over the property rights of many of the pieces of artwork it contained.

The heirs of Baron Hatvany filed a claim with Britain's eight-member Spoliation Advisory Panel — a panel created by the British government to mediate looting claims on art works in public institutions in 2013—after someone recognized the Constable painting as having been looted whilst visiting the Tate's London collection in 2012. 


In May 2014, at the urging of the SAP, the Tate formally authorized the painting's return to three of Hatvany’s heirs — descendants who live in Paris and Switzerland.  Then, alarmingly, the museum reversed course one week later after officials from the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts produced an apparent 1946 export license for the painting.

SAP met again in September 2015 to reexamine the original facts in the case, along with the added Hungarian Museum documentation, and in a lengthy 81-page report again concluded that “No link has been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export license.” SAP then once again urged the return of the painting to the Baron’s heirs.

Agnes Peresztegi, a lawyer who works for the nonprofit Commission for Art Recovery and represents the three Hatvany heirs, has said that the case illustrated the need for museums to conduct better due diligence when checking the provenance of paintings. “Research,” she stated, must “conform to a higher standard and there is a need for more transparency.”

As is unfortunately often the case when World War II restitutions are eventually made, the Hatvany heirs have decided to put the Constable painting up for sale. The heirs of WWII looted art are often numerous or often, not necessarily wealthy.  Sometimes the only practical solution for dividing the value of inherited artworks is to witness its sale.

Baron Ferenc Hatvany’s Constable painting, Beaching a Boat, Brighton will go on the auction block at Christies in London on December 8th.  It is expected to sell for between GBS £500,000 and GBA £800,000.

By: Summer Clowers










At the urging of the SAP, the Tate formally authorized the painting's return to three heirs — descendants who live in Paris and Switzerland in May 2014.  Then alarmingly the museum reversed course one week later after officials from the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts produced an apparent 1946 export license for the painting.

The Spoliation Advisory Panel met again in September 2015 and reexamined the facts in the case along with the added documentation and in a length 81 page report again concluded that “No link has been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export license.”

Agnes Peresztegi, a lawyer who works for the nonprofit Commission for Art Recovery, who represents the three Hatvany heirs since 2012 has said the case illustrated the need for museums to conduct better due diligence when checking the provenance of paintings. “Research,” she stated, must “conform to a higher standard and there is a need for more transparency.”

As is often the case, when World War II restitutions are eventually made, the Hatvany heirs have decided to put the Constable painting up for sale.  The painting will go on the auction block at Christies in London on December 8th and is expected to sell for between GBS £500,000 and GBA £800,000.

Because the heirs of the looted art are numerous or not necessarily wealthy, sometimes the only practical solution for dividing the value of inherited artwork is to witness its sale. 





November 3, 2016

There's money to be made from suffering: The collection history of a recovered Monuments Men artwork, returned to the heirs, then sold, then sold again, and soon to be sold (yet) again


According to some statistics, less than 20 percent of the value of Jewish assets stolen by the Nazis and their collaborators has been restored.

ARCA highlights the lifespan of one.

Painted Crucifix
Artist: 
Giovanni da Rimini
Active in Rimini 
1292 - 1336
Egg tempera on cruciform panel
160.5 by 130 cm.

Collection History/Provenance 

Possibly Achillito Chiesa, Esq. of Milan collection, 
Frederick Muller, Amsterdam 
Enrico Testa

With Jacques Goudstikker, Amsterdam, inv. no. 2212, by 1929 .  

Goudstikker, the now famous second-generation Jewish Dutch art dealer fled the Netherlands in 1940 along with his wife Désirée von Halban Kurz and their son Edo following the country's invasion by Nazi Germany. 

While crossing the English channel on the SS Bodegraven, Jacques fell to his death through an uncovered hatch on the deck of the ship. Inconveniently his executor, Dr. A. Sternheim, also died around this same time and the entire Goudstikker collection (1,113 numbered paintings and an unknown quantity of unnumbered paintings) were sold to Nazi leader Hermann Wilhelm Göring despite the objections of Goudstikker's widow.  

The forced sale price:   a measly two million guilders, a small fraction of the collection's actual value.

13 July 1940  - the artwork is transferred to Carinhall by Walter Hofer for Hermann Göring (inv. no. 392).

 Museum and exhibition labels from the reverse side
of the panel painting

Photo of Jacques Goudstikker
from RKDarchives.
Afterwards, the panel painting was recovered by the "Monuments Men", a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (“MFAA") section under the auspices of the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies during World War II.  The recovered artwork was then forwarded to the Munich Central Collecting Point (inv. no. 6294) on August 2, 1945. 

After being documented, the panel painting was delivered to the Nederlands Kunstbezit, earlier known as the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit at The Hague (inv. no. NK1485) on November 7, 1945. 


As Marc Masurovsky, Co-Founder of  the Holocaust Art Restitution project has said "in an ideal world, the cost of seeking restitution of a Nazi-looted art object should not be a hindrance to achieving justice."

But the economics of restitution is never easy. The legal expenses of restitution to von Saher for the return of her family’s objects totalled some USD $10.4 million, a fee most World War II claimants cannot afford, even when the works of art are high in value as was the case in this circumstance. As a consequence, the painting was put on the auction block. 

On July 05, 2007 the cross, Lot 7, is sold for USD $125,362 via Christie’s London and is acquired by Old Master dealer, Fabrizio Moretti of Moretti Fine Art galleries in Florence, London, and New York. 

On January 29, 2015 the cross is again sold as Lot 131 for USD $245,000 via Sotheby's New York to an unnamed buyer, who apparently is still represented by the Italian Old Masters firm as it is still being marketed under the umbrella of Moretti Fine Arts.  

Image from Moratti Fine Art’s
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/morettifineart/

And the clack of an auctioneer's hammer continues.