Art Law Report

Jurisdictional Law Hailed as Impetus to End Russian Art Loan Embargo that is Actually Unaffected by that Law

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 6, 2017 at 12:39 PM

With reports that Russia is considering abandoning the nearly five year old embargo on loans of cultural artifacts into the United States, the cited connection between that willingness and the recent passage of the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (FCEJICA) bears closer scrutiny that it has received to date.  If the unnecessary embargo were to come to an end it would be welcome news, but Russia’s claim that the new law is the reason is hard to square with the history of the issue.  It cannot be stated emphatically enough that the new law makes Russian art loans no more or less safe from seizure than they were before, because the law governing seizure of cultural objects (the Immunity from Seizure Act, or IFSA) has not changed.  Russia’s penchant for framing the question as something for which it needed protection is thus frustrating because it is simply incorrect.  The Russian loan embargo has been political theater from the time in began in 2012 in retaliation after Russian defendants lost a key litigation in Washington, DC, and the new law was passed in response to events that had nothing to do with Russia. 

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Topics: Alfred Flechtheim, Russia, 22 U.S.C. § 2259, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(3), FSIA, IFSA, Immunity from Seizure Act, Chabad, Welfenschatz, Malevich v. City of Amsterdam, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional

Looted Art Legislation—HEAR Act and Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act Set to Become Law

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 12, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Congress has passed and President Obama is expected to sign two bills related to looted art and the availability of U.S. courts to hear disputes over them.  The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act of 2016 and the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Clarification Act (FCEJCA, for lack of a handy acronym) were both passed without objection both the House of Representatives on December 10, 2016, and are expected to be signed by President Obama shortly.  The HEAR Act is a major shift in the law of Nazi-looted art claims specifically, while the FCEJCA is controversial but unlikely to have a broad impact one way or another.  It is perhaps most remarkable that in an era of unique partisanship and political polarization, members of Congress from both parties and the President agreed on anything, let alone unanimously (sponsors include such unusual allies as Ted Cruz, Richard Blumenthal, John Cornyn, and Charles Schumer).

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Topics: Legislation, Guelph Treasure, Alfred Flechtheim, Russia, Nazi-looted art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, FSIA, expropriation exception”, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, World War II, State Hermitage Museum, Charles Schumer, Immunity from Seizure Act, Chabad, 28 U.S.C. § 1605, John Cornyn, Welfenschatz, Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, Richard Blumenthal, Ted Cruz, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional, Mikhail Piotrovsky, Politico, Anita Difanis

More of the Same—Latest Limbach Commission “Reform” is Anything But

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 11, 2016 at 11:33 AM

Supposed Changes to German Advisory Commission on Nazi Looted Art Short on Specifics

There have been a number of articles this week indicating that Germany intends to reform the “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property” (Beratende Kommission im Zusammenhang mit der Rückgabe NS-verfolgungsbedingt entzogener Kulturgüter, insbesondere aus jüdischem Besitz) that is charged with making recommendations to German museums on claims for art allegedly looted or bought under duress during the Nazi era.  Yet the most astonishing part of the news is that it is no news at all.  It is merely a repetition—if that—of what was promised in March.  Only now it is not even a promise, it is an indication that proposals may be forthcoming at some indefinite point in the future.  It is further evidence that the entire endeavor does not deserve to be taken seriously.  At best, the “reforms” would address some of the appalling discriminatory comments made earlier this year.  But nothing proposed so far would compel a museum to submit to the commission, about which Bavaria in particular—the federal state that isin the midst of its own scandal for returning art to actual Nazis while giving heirs the runaround—notoriously refuses even to appear before the commission

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Topics: Alfred Flechtheim, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Advisory Commission, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, Bavaria, World War II, Limbach Commission

Time to Go—Flechtheim Heirs Withdraw from Limbach Commission That Has Outlived its Usefulness

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM

Two days after suspending their participation in the Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property, often called the "Limbach Commission" after its presiding member Jutta Limbach (the Beratende Kommission im Zusammenhang mit der Rückgabe NS-verfolgungsbedingt entzogenen Kulturguts, insbesondere aus jüdischem Besitz), the heirs of Alfred Flechtheim withdrew from the proceedings entirely. The dispute concerns Violon et encrier (Violin and Inkwell) (1913) by Juan Gris in the Stiftung Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Art Collections Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia) in Düsseldorf.

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Topics: Alfred Flechtheim, Nazi-looted art, Advisory Commission, Beratende Kommission, Restitution, Düsseldorf, World War II, Limbach Commission, Dr. Michael Hulton, Juan Gris

Flechtheim Heirs Suspend Limbach Commission Proceedings Over Juan Gris Painting in Düsseldorf

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 24, 2016 at 2:27 PM

In a move that is symbolic of the tattered legitimacy of the German Advisory Commission concerning Nazi-looted art in state museums, the heirs of famed and persecuted Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim today suspended the state-run non-binding mediation process concerning Violon et encrier (Violin and Inkwell) (1913) by Juan Gris in the Stiftung Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen (Art Collections Foundation of Northern Rhineland/Westphalia) in Düsseldorf.  Dr. Michael Hulton of San Francisco, California, Flechtheim’s great-nephew and heir instructed his attorneys to put on hold the Beratende Kommission im Zusammenhang mit der Rückgabe NS-verfolgungsbedingt entzogener Kulturguts, insbesondere aus jüdischem Besitz (Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property, often called the Limbach Commission after its presiding member Jutta Limbach) after disputes about the fairness of the proceedings.  In a letter to Culture Minister Monika Grütters accompanying their press release, Dr. Hulton’s attorneys Markus Stoetzel and Mel Urbach issued a scathing criticism of the proceedings and asked the Advisory Commission not to make any recommendation about the painting in Düsseldorf until a further investigation into the procedural missteps could be completed. 

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Topics: Alfred Flechtheim, Limbach Commission, Dr. Michael Hulton, Juan Gris

REMINDER: Art Crime and Cultural Heritage: Fakes, Forgeries, and Looted and Stolen Art at NYU June 4-6

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 27, 2015 at 5:41 AM

I am looking forward to next week’s Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. The program is as follows, and promises to be a fascinating event.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., On the Shore of the Seine, Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Paysage Bords de Seine, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Symposium at NYU June 4-6, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 1, 2015 at 6:49 AM

I am pleased to be taking part in the upcoming Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. I’m very much looking forward to learning from my co-panelists and the other participants. Registration is available here.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

New Details, More Questions Than Answers in Gurlitt Nazi-Tinged Painting Find in Munich

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 5, 2013 at 4:45 AM

The Bavarian prosecutor held a press conference today to discuss the revelation this weekend in Focus that nearly 1,400 paintings had been found in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt two years ago, after he aroused suspicion by bringing a large amount of cash back into Germany from Switzerland in 2010. This continues to shape up as the biggest restitution story in decades, perhaps ever. Among the key updates provided today by Sigfried Köble and Reinhard Nemetz, the customs official and prosecutor in charge, respectively:

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, unbekannte Meisterwerke, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Alfred Flechtheim, the Lion Tamer, Cornelius Gurlitt, Reinhard Nemetz, Anne Weber, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Bloomberg, Otto Dix, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Art Market Monitor, Auktionshaus Lempertz, Entartete Kunst, Meike Hoffmann, Marc Chagall, Entdeckung verschollener Kunst, beschlagnahmte Bilder, Kunsthistorikerin, Sigfried Köble, Restitution, Der Spiegel, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Erben, Raubkunst-Bildern, Löwenbändiger, München, Nazi Raubkunst

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