Art Law Report

Heirs of Nazi-Persecuted Art Dealer Alfred Flechtheim Sue Bavarian Museums

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 6, 2016 at 11:20 AM

Paintings by Beckmann, Gris and Klee Valued at Nearly $20 Million That Once Belonged to Flechtheim Are at Issue in New York Lawsuit

Sullivan & Worcester LLP has filed suit against Bavaria and its state museums in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on behalf of our clients Dr. Michael Hulton and Mrs. Penny Hulton, heirs to the renowned and persecuted Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.  The Hultons have asked the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to restitute several paintings by Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, and Juan Gris that are now in the possession of the German federal state of Bavaria, Adolf Hitler’s and the Nazi party’s homeland, and its Bavarian State Paintings Collections (known in German as the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, or BSGS).  We are aided in this case by our co-counsel Markus Stoetzel and Mel Urbach, Esq.

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Cornelius Gurlitt, Deutschlandradio. Deutsche Presse Agentur, Monuments Men, Nazi-looted art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Max Beckmann, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, Paul Klee, FSIA, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, Bavaria, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, World War II, Alfred Flechteim, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Dr. Michael Hulton, Juan Gris, George Grosz

Changes to Limbach Commission Announced, Real Change Now Seems Out of Reach

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 15, 2016 at 10:43 AM

Three New Members Are Added but German Museums Can Still Decline to Participate

After nearly a year of hinting at changes the Advisory Commission in Germany that makes recommendations to state museums on claims for allegedly Nazi-looted works in their collections (“Beratende Kommission im Zusammenhang mit der Rückgabe NS-verfolgungsbedingt entzogener Kulturgüter, insbesondere aus jüdischem Besitz,” or “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”), the federal government announced last week the addition of three new members.  Yet despite public outcry over the outdated and opaque procedures of the commission (better known as the Limbach Commission, in reference to the late Jutta Limbach, presiding member and former judge of the Constitutional Court), none of the fundamental flaws in the panel have been confronted or addressed.  Instead, the occasion has served as little more than another photo opportunity for federal Minister of Culture Monika Grütters, whose visage dutifully accompanies all the recent announcements.

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Topics: Legislation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Stefan Koldehoff, Beratende Kommission, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, Bavarian State Paintings Collection, Looted Art, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Monika Grütters, Limbach Commission, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Raphael Gross, Gary Smith, Marion Eckart-Hofer, Simon Dubnow Institute, American Academy in Berlin, Rudiger Mahlo, Jewish Claims Conference

European Cultural Protection Laws and Export Licenses—the Atlantic Gulf Widens

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 10, 2015 at 7:37 AM

Germany has proposed a revision to its cultural protection legislation that would further restrict exports of objects more than 50 years old. While worries that it is the equivalent to state expropriation are overblown, it does indicate a mindset that is in many ways incompatible with the modern art market—even if it is only an effort to harmonize German and EU law. The struggles of Germany’s efforts to keep pace with other centers of art trade may only be compounded if this becomes law.

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Topics: Legislation, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, cultural property, Roman antiquity, Germany, Cultural Protection Laws, England, Joshua Reynolds, European, Rome, 5th Amendment, Bundesländer, Italy, Monika Grütters, regulatory taking

Guelph Treasure Claims—Coverage and Analysis

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 8, 2015 at 5:45 PM

It has been almost two weeks since I filed my clients’ claims for restitution of the Guelph Treasure (Welfenschatz).

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Topics: Maria Altmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, National Socialists, Third Reich, artdaily.org, Reuters, United States Supreme Court, Guelph Treasure, Gestapo, Haaretz, Deutschlandradio. Deutsche Presse Agentur, Robin Young, the Guardian, The Art Newspaper, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, The Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Welle, Santa Fe, KRQE News 13, the Observer, Markus Stoetzel, Die Erle, Mel Urbach, Nazis, Advisory Commission, 3SAT, ZDF, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Washington DC, Hermann Goering, Private Wealth, Restitution, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Here & Now, Gerald Stiebel, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, flight tax, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Adolf Hitler, United States District Court, The New York Times, Federal Republic of Germany, BBC News Europe, Alan Phillip, Welfenschatz, NPR, PrivateArtInvestor, ArtNet news

Gurlitt Will Contest Won’t be Resolved Anytime Soon, Will Likely Delay Restitution

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 6, 2015 at 10:41 PM

Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) reported yesterday that the challenge by Uta Werner to her cousin Cornelius Gurlitt’s will may extend late into this year. Werner has petitioned the court in Munich to set aside the last will and testament that named the Kunstmuseum in Bern as Gurlitt’s sole heir and beneficiary of the 1,280 works of art found in his apartment in 2012, as well as those in Salzburg. In November, the Kunstmuseum, the Bavarian government, and the German government announced to great fanfare but little analysis that the museum would accept the bequest and work with the Gurlitt Task Force to sort through objects with questionable provenance related to Hildebrand Gurlitt’s role as an approved dealer of “degenerate art” under the Nazis, and the concern that some of the objects may be Nazi-looted art.

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Henri Hinrichsen, Stefan Koldehoff, Die Bilder Sind Unter Uns Das Geschäft mit der NS-, Zwei Reiter am Strand, Max Liebermann, Germany, Fall Gurlitt, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, SRF, Hildebrand Gurltt, will contest, Gurlitt, Restitution, David Toren, World War II, Task Force, Die Zeit, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen, Kunstmuseum Bern, Martha Hinrichsen, Raubkunst, The Pictures Are Under Us Business in Nazi-Looted, last will and testament

Curiouser and Curiouser: Still More Gurlitt Paintings Found, Nazi-Looting Connections Unknown

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 25, 2014 at 7:25 AM

As if the Cornelius/Hildebrand Gurlitt saga needed any more complications as the world awaits the official decision by the Kunstmuseum Bern about whether to accept the appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt’s heir, even more artwork has apparently turned up. Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Wall Street Journal have reported that one picture and several sculptures in the very apartment from which the original trove was seized more than two years ago. Among the sculptures are apparently a Degas and a Rodin. Nothing else seems known about the works or their ownership history, or whether they might be among works that Hildebrand Gurlitt sold or acquired as "degenerate" (side note: the Victoria and Albert Museum's copy of the Degenerate Art Action register is currently on display in New York at the Neue Galerie's exhibition of that title. While it is available online, it is most certainly worth a visit before the show ends).

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Victoria and Albert Museum, Rodin, Cornelius Gurlitt, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Gurlitt Task Force, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Degas, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Neue Galerie, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, Kunstmuseum Bern, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst

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

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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