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)

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

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

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

Kunstmuseum Bern and Germany Now Blaming Claimants for Delay in Gurlitt Restitution

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 20, 2015 at 4:28 AM

In a story that never fails to provide new twists and turns, the Kunstmseum Bern, apparently with the collaboration of the German government, is now contesting the idea that the only thing holding up restitution of the works identified as Nazi-looted by the Gurlitt Task Force is the will contest by Cornelius Gurlitt's cousin Uta Werner. Instead, they are now blaming the claimants themselves for the delay in restituting Seated Woman by Henri Matisse, The Cardplayers, by Carl Spitzweg, and Two Riders on the Beach, by Max Liebermann, to the Rosenberg, Henrichnsen, and Friedmann/Toren families, respectively.

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Topics: The Cardplayers, Carl Spitzweg, Friedmann, Toren, Henrichnsen, Uta Werner, Max Liebermann, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Two Riders on the Beach, Matisse, Rosenberg, Gurlitt, Restitution, World War II, German Center for Lost Cultural Property, Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, Henri Matisse

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

Kunstmuseum Bern Blames Gurlitt Restitution Delay on Will Contest, Claimants Are Having None of it

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 18, 2015 at 8:04 AM

We recently discussed how the will contest concerning the will in which Cornelius Gurlitt left his estate to the Kunstmuseum Bern was complicating efforts to restitute any Nazi-looted works within the collection. Since the will contest, in and it itself, certainly seemed plausible, the resulting effect it could have on returning questionable works was not hard to see.

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Topics: Uta Werner, Max Liebermann, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Two Riders on the Beach, Matisse, Carl Spitweg, Gurlitt, Breslau David Toren, Art Recovery International, Kunstmuseum Bern, Henri Henrichsen, Christopher Marinello, David Friedmann, ArtNet, Paul Rosenberg

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

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