Art Law Report

Germany Keeps Digging—Explanation for Excluding Jewish Member from Nazi-looted Art Advisory Commission is Worse than Before

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 9, 2016 at 5:02 PM

 

Last week Germany’s Minister of Culture Monika Grütters made the astonishing statement that the Advisory Commission that issues recommendations for questions of allegedly Nazi-looted art in German museums would not be revised to include a member of the Jewish community because that Jewish member “would be the only voice who would be prejudiced.” The statement was not idle gossip, it was to the New York Times, which was writing a feature piece about her. This was a shockingly tone-deaf statement for a German cabinet member to make. Even in a vacuum, it is logically indefensible; why would a Jewish member be more biased than a German member (about which she had no objection). And, of course, it is not a vacuum—we are talking about Germany.

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Topics: Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Advisory Commission, Restitution, Monika Grütters, Raubkunst, Limbach Commission

“Final Report” of Gurlitt Task Force Presented to German Government—Process Continues to Raise More Questions Than Answers

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 15, 2016 at 3:35 PM

The chair of the Schwabinger Kunstfund (Gurlitt) Task Force (Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel) presented yesterday a report on behalf of the Task Force to German Minister of Culture Monika Grütters. The larger context of the government’s failure to support the expert panel in the stranger-than-fiction story of Cornelius Gurlitt, however, and the complete lack of a commitment from the national government about what will happen now makes this an occasion that is hardly worth the self-congratulation that accompanied the theatrical presentation. The fact that Grütters would portray the last two years as a “political symbol of transparency” is frankly hard to understand, particularly when the future of the expert panel is completely up in the air.  Illusory suggestions that the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste will support what’s left of it in some unspecified fashion are hard to place stock in, and it’s anyone’s guess if the members would even want to remain involved. 

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Topics: Gurlitt Collection, Restitution

Gurlitt Task Force Issues Fifth Recommendation for Restitution

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 15, 2015 at 4:51 AM

Sophisticated Analysis of Adolph von Menzel Drawing Distinguishes Itself from Recent Revisionism Elsewhere

As the original term of the Gurlitt Task Force (Taskforce Schwabinger Kunstfund) winds down, the panel has issued a report on a work that it deems appropriate for restitution: Interior of a Gothic Church (Inneres einer gottischen Kirche) by Adolph von Menzel (pencil drawing, signed/dated 1874). The drawing has been called Church in Hofgastein in some English language articles.

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Topics: Interior of a Gothic Church, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Nazi Germany, Inneres einer gottischen Kirche, Dresden, Gurlitt Task Force, Adolph von Menzel, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Ernst Julius Wolffson, Washington Principles on Nazi-Looted Art, Advisory Commission, Munich, Albert Martin Wolffson, Salzburg, Restitution, Catrin Lorch, Bavaria, World War II, Switzerland, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Federal Republic of Germany, Raubkunst, Taskforce Schwabinger Kunstfund, Elsa Helene Cohen, Limbach Commission, Jörg Häntzschel

Gurlitt Collection May be Displayed Next Year, Real Progress Still Elusive as Focus Remains on Public Relations

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 13, 2015 at 7:43 AM

After months of relative inactivity, there was news this week in the saga of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive German man from whose apartments in Munich and Salzburg more than 1,280 objects were seized as part of a tax investigation, objects that came under suspicion of Nazi looting because of the privileged position held by his father Hildebrand Gurlitt. Unfortunately, the latest news continues a string of public relations efforts that bespeak no real progress as we approach the second anniversary of the public awareness of the story. Quite unlike the plaudits that were thrown around by many last year (though not by us) concerning Germany’s agreement with Gurlitt’s named heir, the reaction has been appropriately skeptical this time.

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Topics: cultural property, Sepp Dürr, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Art Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Cornelius Gurlitt, Bonn Minister of Culture, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Munich, World Jewish Congress, Salzburg, Restitution, Müncher Kunstfund, Der Spiegel, World War II, Task Force, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Monika Grütters, Raubkunst, Green Party, Kunsthalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Ronald Lauder

Boston Globe Publishes Article on Welfenschatz Case

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 15, 2015 at 11:17 AM

The Boston Globe published a story today entitled “Gift to Hitler spurs a claim for justice" about the Welfenschatz case that I filed for my clients earlier this year.

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Topics: Guelph Treasure, Gurlitt Collection, Hitler, Boston Globe, Restitution, World War II, Welfenschatz

Munich Court Requests Psychological Opinion Concerning Gurlitt’s Competence to Make Will

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 14, 2015 at 5:57 AM

Even as we creep up on the anniversary of the theatrical announcement of an agreement between Bavaria, Germany, and the Kunstmuseum Bern concerning the bequest of Cornelius Gurlitt, the court challenge by Gurlitt’s family is by no means over. News came this week that the Munich court overseeing the appeal of the initial denial of the will challenge has requested an expert opinion concerning Gurlitt’s psychological state.

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Topics: Cornelius Gurlitt, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Amtsgericht, Oberlandesgericht, Munich, Restitution, World War II, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Raubkunst

First Painting Restituted from Gurlitt Trove to be Sold; Appellate Court in Munich Breathes New Life Into Will Contest

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 25, 2015 at 2:40 AM

After the restitution of the first two works of Nazi-looted art from the trove of works found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, David Toren has announced his intention to auction his work, Two Riders on the Beach by Max Liebermann. Toren, now more than 90 years old, remembers the theft of the painting from his uncle David Friedmann in Breslau (now Wrocław). Toren is the only claimant to date to have filed litigation over the Gurlitt case. Sotheby’s will auction the work on June 24. Toren explained his motivation for the sale as follows:

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Topics: Petra Willner, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Wrocław, Zwei Reiter am Strand, Uta Werner, Max Liebermann, Gurlitt Collection, Two Riders on the Beach, Verena Osgyan, Oberlandesgericht, Gurlitt, Restitution, David Toren, World War II, Mittelbayerische Zeitung, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Berner Zeitung, David Friedmann

Two Works Found With Gurlitt Cleared for Immediate Restitution, Hundreds More Still in Limbo

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 13, 2015 at 9:04 AM

After months of start/stop and hurry up and wait, the Munich court with jurisdiction over the Gurlitt collection has cleared two paintings for restitution to the heirs of their original owners. David Toren and the Rosenberg family will receive Two Riders on the Beach (Ritter am Strand) by Max Liebermann and Seated Woman by Henri Matisse, respectively. This will also result in the resolution of the only lawsuit to date filed over the Gurlitt case (pending in Washington, DC). Toren and the Rosenbergs are to be congratulated for their perseverance, as should their representatives (again, respectively) August Matteis and Christopher Marinello—particularly after some eleventh-hour victim-blaming.

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Topics: Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Two Riders on the Beach, August Mattheis and Christopher Marinello, Munich, Rosenbergs, Gurlitt, Restitution, David Toren, World War II, W Wall Street Journal, Ritter am Strand

Gurlitt Cousin Appeals Dismissal of Will Contest

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 29, 2015 at 11:08 AM

Uta Werner has appealed the adverse decision of the Munich court last month with respect to her challenge to Cornelius Gurlitt’s will. Werner, the cousin of Cornelius Gurlitt, argued that the will written by Gurlitt that named the Kunstmuseum Bern as his heir (and thus to his art collection). The Munich court previously upheld the will, making the Bern museum the sole heir to Gurlitt in all respects, including not only the trove found in Munich but some 200 (arguably more significant) works found in his Salzburg, Austria home.

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Topics: Cornelius Gurlitt, Uta Werner, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Restitution, World War II, Kunstmuseum Bern, Raubkunst

Gurlitt Task Force Issues Fourth Restitution Recommendation in 14 Months

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 6, 2015 at 7:55 AM

Shortly after reports that two of the objects found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s possession in 2012 would “be restituted “soon” to the families from which they were looted under Nazi auspices pursuant to the three recommendations of the Gurlitt Task Force to date, the Task Force has now issued a fourth recommendation. The newest work to be identified for restitution is a Camille Pissarro painting, The Seine seen from the Pont-Neuf, the Louvre in the background.

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Topics: Guelph Treasure, Cornelius Gurlitt, Uta Werner, Gurlitt Task Force, Gurlitt Collection, Salzburg, Restitution, District Court of Munich, World War II, Camille Pissarro, The Seine seen from the Pont-Neuf the Louvre in th, Kunstmuseum Bern, www.lostart.de, Museums, Monika Grütters, Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, German Cultural Property Center, Minister of Culture

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