Art Law Report

Conference in Cambridge—“From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational Perspective”

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 31, 2017 at 10:55 AM

I am speaking at a conference on March 23-24, 2017 at the University of Cambridge (UK) entitled “From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational Perspective.”  My presentation will address the various national panels created in response to the Washington Conference by European countries to address claims for Nazi-looted art in state collections.  The roster of speakers is impressive (present company excluded), and it promises to be a fascinating two days.  The program is available here, and the conference website is here

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Topics: Wiesbaden, London, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Paris, Art Recovery Group, Constantine Cannon LLP, Emily Löffler, Pierre Valentin, Events, Johannes Nathan, Karlsruhe, Marc Masurovsky, Sotheby's, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Emmanuelle Polack, Leopold Museum, Frankfurt, Jewish Claims Conference, Victoria Louise Steinwachs, Debbie De Girolamo, Tabitha I. Oost, Bianca Gaudenzi, Jewish Museum Prague, Robert Holzbauer, Tessa Rosebrock, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Laurel Zuckerman, Shlomit Steinberg, Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, Maike Brueggen, Nathalie Neumann, Simone Gigliotti, Royal Holloway University of London, Anne O. Popham, Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig, Isabel von Klitzing, Landesmuseum Mainz, Michaela Sidenberg, Mary Kate Cleary, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Fluchtgut, Diana Kostyrko, Elizabeth Campbell, University of Denver, Evelien Campfens, Leiden University, Angelina Giovani, Jennifer Gramer, Agata Wolska, Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam, Friederike Schwelle, Art Loss Register, Provenance Research & Art Consulting

Gurlitt and the State of Restitution: Triumphalist Moment Looking More Like Premature "Mission Accomplished"

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 19, 2015 at 9:45 AM

Ongoing events have weakened irrevocably the triumphalist message that Germany had hoped to send with its November agreement concerning the Gurlitt bequest to the Kunstmuseum Bern, and the January opening of the Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste (the German Center for Lost Cultural Property). Instead, the self-congratulatory air that surrounded those events is starting to look like a premature "Mission Accomplished" moment.

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Topics: Cornelius Gurlitt, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Uta Werner, Adolph von Menzel, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Sachsenhausen, Matisse, Saturday Night Live, George Eduard Behrens, Advisory Commission, Hamburg, L. Behrens & Söhne, Gurlitt, German Cultural Minister, Der Spiegel, Hjalmar Schacht, German Center for Lost Cultural Property, Minister of Economics, Marc Masurovsky, Washington Principles, Kristallnacht, Monika Grütters, Great Depression, Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, Pariser Wochentag, Paris Weekday, Welfenschatz, Limbach Commission, Heidelberg

Lauder Wall Street Journal Nazi-Looted Art Editorial, Art Law Report Post, and the Response: Some Clarification and Context

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 18, 2014 at 5:32 AM

Two weeks ago, we posted an article entitled “Lauder Editorial on Stolen Art Fails the Glass House Test.” The metaphor was not intended to be complicated: it seemed inconsistent, to put it politely, for the honorary board chairman of a museum that has resisted restitution claims by asserting, for example, the statute of limitations and the laches defense, now to say that museums that do just that are “immoral.” Ultimately, we posited that restitution decisions are complicated and hard. It seemed an open question for example as to what, exactly, Ronald S. Lauder’s editorial "Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums" was designed to draw attention. Right on cue, another article appeared calling for the return of the Camille Pissarro in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation museum in Madrid (Rue St. Honoré, effet de pluie) claimed by the heirs of Lilly Cassirer. It is clear that the June 30, 2014 Art Law Report raised more than a few hackles, but we welcome discussion and criticism. An exchange of ideas is what we are here to foster, after all. In the end, however, some clarification shows that there is not really a disagreement here, but rather that the response highlights frustration with civil law countries' treatment of stolen art.

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Topics: Cristoph Bernoulli, Ronald S. Lauder, La bérgère, Norton Simon Museum, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Jr. Museum of Art, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscat, American Alliance of Museums, Fred Jones, University of Oklahoma, David Findlay Jr. Gallery, Judge Colleen McMahon, MoMA, Plundered Art, specific jurisdiction, Madame Soler, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 301, Adam, general jurisdiction, AAM, Museum of Modern Art, World Jewish Congress, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, David Findlay Galleries, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 302, Free State of Bavaria, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Switzerland, Pinakothek der Moderne, Leone Meyer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Wally, Freistaat Bayern, Weitzenhoffer, Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, AAMD, Association of Museum Directors, Eve, New York, Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums

First List of Art Found in Gurlitt Collection is Released, Website Overwhelmed as Claimants Consider Legal Options

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 12, 2013 at 3:33 AM

The German government has released an initial list of twenty five works among the collection seized from the Munich (Schwabing) apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the most significant discovery of possibly looted art since the end of World War II. The list is posted at www.lostart.de, a hitherto little-known website of the Coordination Point for Cultural Losses (Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste ) in Magdeburg, which administers claims for cultural losses against the German state. The website has been overwhelmed with traffic (I have yet to load the page successfully), sparking fresh criticism of the government’s handling of the issue, but giving credit where due, the Merkel government has moved swiftly to begin these disclosures. As we predicted, the national government simply could not allow this question to fester and be stonewalled; earlier this week foreign minister Guido Westerwelle noted the risk that delay posed to “trust that we have built over many decades” after World War II. The question now will be whether it continues in a comprehensive way until the full list is released.

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Topics: Thinking Woman, Playing Piano, Carl Spitzweg, The Master Exploder Hantsch, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Honoré Daumier, Christoph Voll, Dompteuse, Hans Christoph, Girl at Table, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Guido Westerwelle, Max Liebermann, Antonio Canaletto, Eugène Delacroix, Tram, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Allegory/Allegorical Scene, View of the Seine Valley, Moorish Conversation on a Terrace, Otto Dix, Erich Fraass, Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, Wilhelm Lachnit, Entartete Kunst, Couple, Marc Chagall, Study of a Woman Nude Standing Arms Raised Hands C, Auguste Rodin, Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair, Child at Table, Magdeburg, Bonaventura Genelli, Patricia Cohen, Restitution, Fritz Maskos, Veiled Woman, Male Portrait, Female nude, Der Spiegel, World War II, degenerate art, Mother and Child, Couple in a Landscape, Ludwig Godenschweg, Théodore Rousseau, www.lostart.de, Otto Griebel, New York Times, Coordination Point for Cultural Losses, Bernhard Kretschmar, Riders on the Beach, Monk, S.A Giustina in Prà della Vale, Kunstfund München, Male Nude, Henri Matisse, Conrad Felixmüller, Woman in the Theater Box, Man and Woman in the Window

Revival of the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 30, 2013 at 5:03 AM

The Holocaust Art Restitution Project reports today that a new version of Senate Bill 2212, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act that would have amended the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to preclude claims against defendants whose “commercial activity” is limited to the loan of artwork whose ownership is in dispute, but which are immunized from seizure pursuant to the Immunity from Seizure Act (22 U.S.C. § 2459). The Art Law Report covered the bill extensively last year. Although the bill as previously passed would have exempted Holocaust claims from the exception, the bill in broad terms was designed to prevent another Malevich v. City of Amsterdam situation, in which the very loan of a painting immunized from seizure was itself held to satisfy the commercial activity jurisdictional requirements of the FSIA.

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Topics: Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Association of Art Museum Directors, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Immunity from Seizure Act, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

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