Art Law Report

Gurlitt Bequest to Kunstmuseum Bern is Upheld

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 15, 2016 at 9:48 AM

Cousin Had Challenged His Capacity to Make a Will Shortly Before 2014 Death

After a two-year legal battle, the Oberlandesgericht in Munich has upheld the dismissal of Uta Werner’s challenge to the will made by Cornelius Gurlitt in 2014 that designated the Kunstmuseum Bern as his heir, including the bequest of his controversial painting collection.  Less than six months after it was revealed in November 2013 that the Bavarian authorities had seized 1,280 objects from his Schwabing home in Munich, Gurlitt wrote a will that designated that his entire collection would go to the Swiss museum.  Barring some extraordinary appeal, the bequest will now be final and the collection will go to Switzerland.  While lifting considerable uncertainty about the fate of the collection as a whole, this development does not address the lack of clarity about the process by which the objects that are suspected of having been looted by the Nazis will be examined or returned.

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Topics: Bayern, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Nazi-looted art in Munich, SZ, Uta Werner, Nazi-looted art, Oberlandesgericht, Munich, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Catrin Lorch, Free State of Bavaria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Washington Principles, Jörg Häntzschel, Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)

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

Google Books, Fair Use, and Visual Art—Second Circuit Writes Decision That Would Have Helped Two Years Ago

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 23, 2015 at 11:42 AM

With much anticipation, the Second Circuit issued its opinion last week in the Google Books case (Authors Guild et al. v. Google, Inc.), brought by authors Jim Bouton (of Ball Four fame) and others against Google for the latter’s program of scanning millions of library books, whether or not those books are in the public domain. My overwhelming reaction to the opinion, however, in the realm of visual art, is what a lost opportunity the Prince v. Cariou decision was two years ago, and some optimism that the most recent decision will start to provide useful guidance for practitioners that has been harder to give with confidence since Prince. After two years of the preeminence of the first fair use factor threatening to dwarf everything with a “transformativeness” test that essentially any use could meet, Google Books (even while finding a fair use) restores some balance to that analysis.

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Topics: Richard Prince, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Hildebrand Gurlitt, 510 U.S. 569, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Prince v. Cariou, Second Circuit, Canal Zone, Patrick Cariou, Toward a Fair Use Standard, Michelangelo, Suicide Girls, Inc., Google Books, The Legal Guide for Museum Professionals, Pierre Laval, Jim Bouton, Copyright, transformativeness, Fair Use, Nazi-Looted Art: Risks and Best Practices for Muse

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

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

Gurlitt Collection Information Finally On View, Provenance Details Still Needed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 1, 2014 at 9:15 AM

As the world adjusts to the announcement last week that the Kunstmuseum Bern has decided to accept Cornelius Gurlitt’s bequest (amid the continuing uncertainty about the validity of the will itself), the most significant development has been the museum’s posting of an inventory of the objects themselves. The museum issued a press release that states:

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Münchner Kunstfund

The Kunstmuseum Bern’s Agreement to Accept Gurlitt Inheritance—Analysis and Lingering Issues

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM

With the benefit of (a little) time after the initial announcement that the Kunstmuseum Bern had agreed to accept the inheritance of Cornelius Gurlitt, more information has become available about the agreement with Germany and Bavaria that paved the way for the museum’s decision.

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Topics: Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Gurlitt Task Force, YouTube, Gurlitt Collection, Christoph Schäublin, Salzburg, Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, World War II, Erklärung der Bundesregierung der Länder und der k, Kunstmuseum Bern, Washington Principles, Museums, Monika Grütters, Washingtoner Einkommen

Kunstmuseum Bern Accepts Appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt's Heir, Agreement with Germany

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 24, 2014 at 1:50 AM

As expected, the press conference today in Berlin held by the Kunstmuseum Bern along with German officials announced that the museum has decided to accept the appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt's heir. As we surmised, the decision was accompanied by an agreement concerning the Nazi-looting suspicions that have followed the one time collection of his father Hildebrand Gurlitt. Hildebrand was one of a select few art dealers authorized during the Nazi regime to sell what the authorities deemed "degenerate art" (see link above for more background).

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Willbald Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Münchner Kunstfund

Gurlitt Relatives Formally Challenge Will that Named Kunstmuseum Bern as Heir

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 21, 2014 at 5:46 AM

When we wrote yesterday that everything had been said before seeing how the press conference plays out on Monday at which the Kunstmuseum Bern and Germany will make an announcement, it was somewhat tongue in cheek. Today provides an example why: relatives of Cornelius Gurlitt, who would be his heirs at law in the absence of the will that named the Kunstmuseum Bern as his heir, formally announced a challenge to that will today in a Munich court.

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Uta Werner, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Dietrich Werner, Entartete Kunst, Munich, Willbald Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, Helmut Hausner, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Münchner Kunstfund

Gurlitt and Kunstmuseum Bern Press Conference in Berlin Monday November 24, 2014

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM

The federal government of Germany, the Bavarian Ministry of Culture, and the Kunstmuseum Bern announced today that they will hold a joint press conference on Monday November 24, 2014 concerning the bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt to the Swiss museum when he died. It seems hard to imagine that such an event would announce anything other than acceptance by the museum and perhaps some sort of side agreement with Germany and/or Bavaria.

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Willbald Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Münchner Kunstfund

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