Art Law Report

Gurlitt Bequest to Kunstmuseum Bern is Upheld, Little Else Resolved

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 30, 2015 at 10:05 AM

A Munich court ruled last week that the will written by Cornelius Gurlitt in the last days of his life that named the Kunstmuseum Bern (an institution with which he had no relationship whatsoever) was valid, rejecting a challenge by Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner. It is emblematic of the strange case of Gurlitt and of German’s bizarre handling of the affair, that this decision resolves very few of the pending issues.

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Topics: Conny Leaks, Focus, Carl Spitzweg, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Potemkin Village, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Henri Hinrichsen, German Minister of Culture, Uta Werner, Gurlitt Task Force, Max Liebermann, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Two Riders on the Beach, Entartete Kunst, Salzburg, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Seuddeutsche Zeitung, Restitution, Catrin Lorch, Bavaria, David Toren, World War II, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Monika Grütters, Martha Hinrichsen, David Friedmann, Henri Matisse, Jörg Häntzschel, Paul Rosenberg

Reports that Gurlitt Task Force May Not Meet Deadline—What Happens Then?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM

There were reports over the weekend that the Gurlitt Task Force, currently reviewing the provenance of more than 900 of the 1,280 works of art seized from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment, may not complete that review within the year reportedly set out in the agreement between Bavaria and Gurlitt before he died. There is still confusion about whether the Task Force was indeed foreshadowing a missed deadline (the agreement was in April, so the notion that the review would continue “into 2015” is not necessarily inconsistent with completing its task within one year), but assuming it was, what happens then?

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Topics: Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Entartete Kunst, Anne Webber, Restitution, Der Spiegel, World War II, degenerate art, Kunstmuseum Bern, verschollene Kunst, Münchner Kunstfund

One Year After Gurlitt Revelation, No One is Pleased

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 5, 2014 at 8:59 AM

It has now been one year since Focus magazine in Germany broke the Cornelius Gurlitt story on November 3, 2013. Looking back at the history of the case as it has unfolded since then, the overriding theme has been difficulty in obtaining accurate information about the current state of affairs. The appointed Task Force has made only two recommendations, and the status of the bequest to the Kunstmuseum Bern is still up in the air. And nobody seems remotely pleased.

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Topics: Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Drefsden, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Lex Gurlitt, Entartete Kunst, Salzburg, Bundesrat, Restitution, Der Spiegel, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Switzerland, degenerate art, Kunstmuseum Bern, verschollene Kunst, Münchner Kunstfund, Ronald Lauder

Bavarian State Paintings Collection in the News Again, May Face Claims from Eva Braun Heirs

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 2, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Quite by coincidence, two stories we have covered in the last few days have centered around the claims by the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn Bartholdy, a Jewish banker and art collector who was the target of Nazi persecution before he died in 1935: Julius Schoeps, Edelgard von Lavergne-Peguilhen, and Florence Kesselstatt. Another common thread has been the Bavarian State Paintings Collection (the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung), which is in the news again for possible claims, but this time from heirs of quite a different sort.

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Topics: Paul von Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Fritz Bamberger, Focus, Guelph Treasure, Florence Kesselstatt, Karl Blechen, Karl Ernst Baumann, Julius Schoeps, Dr Alexander Lewin, Germany, Anselm Feuerbach, Hans Sachs, German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultu, Gurlitt case, Edelgard von Lavergne-Peguilhen, Julius and Clara Freund, Eva Braun, Nürnberger Institut, Johann J. August von der Embde, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, 'Stürmer-Bibliothek', Wilhelm Leibl, Jim Tobias, Portrait der Familie von Dithfurth, Restitution, Bavarian State Paintings Collection, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Der Spiegel, World War II, Peasant Girl without a Hat and with a White Headcl, Pinakothek der Moderne, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Austria, Andrea Bambi Mountain Landscape on the Spanish Coa, Jutta Limbach, Washington Principles, Der Stürmer, Welfenschatz, Limbach Commission

Great-Nephew May Challenge Gurlitt Will and Appointment of Kunstmuseum Bern as Sole Heir, Second Will is Confirmed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 13, 2014 at 6:18 AM

When news first broke that Cornelius Gurlitt had named the Kunstmuseum in Bern as his sole heir (and not merely as the recipient of his art collection), we wondered whether some putative heir to Gurlitt—and thus to at least part of the art collection under suspicion for containing Nazi-looted art—might challenge that appointment.

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Topics: Barcelona, Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Wolfgang Seybold, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Spain, Munich, Münchner Gerichtspräsident Gerhard Zierl, 60 Minutes, Restitution, ORF, codicil, testamentary capacity, World War II, Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Ekkeheart Gurlitt, probate, Nazi Raubkunst, CBS, Testament, Münchner Kunstfund, Morley Safer

Cornelius Gurlitt Passes Away, Questions Remain About Recent Deal and Fate of Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 7, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Cornelius Gurlitt died yesterday, six months after his art collection was revealed to the world in a Focus article, and less than a month after striking a deal with Bavarian prosecutors over the 1,280 paintings and works of art seized from his apartment as part of a tax investigation. Although that brings the investigation that initially led to the seizure to an end, many questions remain about what will happen to the deal that he made, and to the works of art in Austria not covered by that deal

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Topics: Focus, Bayern, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, heirs, Entartete Kunst, stolen art, Anne Sinclair, Ersessene Kunst, Restitution, Bavaria, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, degenerate art, Erben, Austria, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, Raubkunst, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

New York Man Sues Germany For Liebermann Found With Gurlitt, but Allegations Face Real FSIA and Pleading Challenges

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 6, 2014 at 1:53 AM

When I spoke in Heidelberg in January at the Institute for Jewish Studies conference “Appropriated Art—the Gurlitt Case,” one of the points I stressed in discussing U.S. restitution litigation was that the longer the Gurlitt case went unresolved (and do not be distracted by the “Voice of Russia” article that is being circulated as “Holocaust victims’ heirs to reclaim Nazi-looted artwork if Gurlitt bill passsed”­—it is not remotely a simple or likely as that), the more certain it would be that litigation would follow in the U.S. Gurlitt himself and his legal team have done their part recently to make any meaningful agreement impossible, and in the absence of unilateral action by Germany (which would probably be illegal), it has now come to pass. The first civil claim related to paintings seized from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment has now been filed by David Toren in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Free State of Bavaria and the Federal Republic of Germany.

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Topics: Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Voice of Russia, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Hungary, de Csepel, Max Liebermann, Germany, Silesia, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Appropriated Art the Gurlitt Case, Hans Sachs, Baron Herzog, bailment, Madame Soler, Entartete Kunst, FSIA, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, conversion, Bavaria, David Toren, Zwei Ritter am Meer, Free State of Bavaria, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), Looted Art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Pinakothek der Moderne, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Freistaat Bayern, Ersessene Kunst¬—der Fall Gurlitt, Picasso, Riders on the Beach, Federal Republic of Germany, Raubkunst, David Friedmann, Institute for Jewish Studies, Münchner Kunstfund, Heidelberg

Augsburg Prosecutor Rejects Idea of Making Deal with Gurlitt, Harvard and LACMA Beckmann Paintings Highlight Difficulty Ahead Without Agreement

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 5, 2014 at 7:14 AM

Just days after attorneys for Cornelius Gurlitt floated the idea of discussions with survivors and heirs for a possible resolution to the questions about the artworks found in his apartment two years ago that are suspected of having been stolen or sold under duress during the Nazi era (and after the prosecutor was ordered to make a full list available to journalists), the prosecutor in charge of the investigation categorically rejected the possibility of any deal with Gurlitt.

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Topics: Erhard Göpel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, FAZ, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Augsburg, Amsterdam, Willi Korte, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Marvin Fishman, Reinhard Nemetz, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Fall Gurlitt, The Art Newspaper, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Karl Buchholz, Robert Looker, Entartete Kunst, Bar Braun, Beutekunst, Schwabing, Magdeburg, LACMA, Ersessene Kunst, Harvard, Gurlitt, Bavaria, Busch-Reisinger, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, degenerate art, the Central Collecting Point, Augsburger Staatsanwalt, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Sotheby's, Roman Norbert Ketterer, Raubkunst, Verjährung, Mayen Beckmann, National Gallery Berlin, verschollene Kunst, De-Nazification, Selbstbildnis, Self Portrait

Gurlitt Attorney Speaks of Discussions with Heirs and “Fair and Equitable Solution,” Challenges Earlier Quote Despite Video of Interview

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 30, 2014 at 4:44 AM

One of Cornelius Gurlitt’s attorneys, Hannes Hartung, told the Wall Street Journal last week, and was again quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung yesterday, that Gurlitt was open to possible resolutions to claims from heirs to the paintings found in his apartment in 2012. According to Hartung, Gurlitt is already in talks with heirs, and wants a “fair and equitable solution.”

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ich geb' nichts freiwillig zurück, FAZ, veschollene Kunst, Focus, Hannes Hartung, Cornelius Gurlitt, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Fall Gurlitt, The Art Newspaper, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Bar Braun, Özlem Gezer, Beutekunst, LACMA, Gurlitt, David D’Arcy, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, degenerate art, Raubkunst

Recap of Ersessene Kunst—Der Fall Gurlitt (Appropriated Art—The Gurlitt Case): January 26, 2014 in Heidelberg

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 28, 2014 at 9:24 AM

I’ve just returned from my presentation in Heidelberg at the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien in Heidelberg at the conference Ersessene Kunst—Der Fall Gurlitt; Appropriated Art—The Gurlitt Case. The presentations were, without exception, outstanding. They ranged from rarely-told case stories, to sharp insights of some of the overarching principles that guide the the Gurlitt case and similar events. As the discussions made clear, this case will not be easily resolved. That in turn makes recent reports that Cornelius Gurlitt has indicated a willingess to discuss the art's return all the more significant.

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Topics: Maria Altmann, Leopold Reidemester, Ministerin für Justiz und Kultur, Stuttgart, Das Alte Schauspielhaus, Cologne, Irina Alter, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, veschollene Kunst, Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Aschbach Castle, Mussolini, Wiedergutmachung, Annette Weber, Monte Cassino, Cornelius Gurlitt, Corinna Budras, S. Lane Faison, Breslau, Universität Heidelberg, Augsburg, Aryanization, Anat Feinberg, Willi Korte, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Monuments Man, Jud Süss, Wrocław, Dresden, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Silesia, Fall Gurlitt, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Köln, Nazi-looted art, Henry Keazor, Gurlitt Collection, Appropriated Art the Gurlitt Case, Schloss Aschbach, Die Welt, Kurpfälzische Museum Heidelberg, Hochschule für Judische Studien Heidelberg, Karl Haberstock, Eberhard Karls-Universität Tübingen, Emily Löffler, CSU, Williams College, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Universität Zürich, Arisierung, Lehrstuhl für Römisches Recht und Privatrecht, Württemberg, Schlesien, Nürnberger Institut, Hamburg, Otto Förster, Rückgabe, Beutekunst, 'Stürmer-Bibliothek', Magdeburg, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, Ersessene Kunst, Katja Terlau, Art Loss Recovery Unit, Jim Tobias, Hermitage, Gurlitt, Bavaria, Johannes Heil, Wien, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Lucas Elmenhorst, Events, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Nürnberg, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Looted Art, „Sturmer-Library“, degenerate art, Seminar für Neuere Geschichte, Wolfgang Ernst, Justizminister, Göring, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Frieder Hepp, Verjährung, Vienna, Claudius Krausharr, Münchner Kunstfund, Zwickau, Kajetan Mühlmann, New York, Werner Haftmann, FAZ Frankfurt, Felicitas Heiman-Jellinek

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