Art Law Report

Bruegel Painting In Vienna Spurs Argument Over Allegations of Nazi Looting in Poland

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 28, 2015 at 10:03 AM

Most often in restitution battles the disagreement boils down to whether a painting was looted, and/or whether it changed hands under circumstances that failed to pass clear title to the predecessor of its current possessor. Then, controversy frequently ensues about the extent to which the possessor resists restitution on grounds other than the title of the painting (jurisdiction, statute of limitations, etc.). Rarer is the type of dispute where the parties don’t even agree about what they’re disagreeing about, like the one brewing between Austria and Poland over a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder that hangs in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559).

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Topics: Musée des Beaux Arts, Brussels, Krakow, Nazi-looted art, Diana Blonska, Gauleiter, Otto Gustav von Wächter, Feliks Kopera, Charlotte Wächter (née Bleckmann), Restitution, Kampf gegen Fasching und Fasten, Frau Wächter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Poland, Austria, Museums, Vienna, The Battle Between Carnival and Lent

Stephan Templ, Chronicler of Nazi Looting in Vienna, Set to Begin Jail Term Over Supposed Omission in His Mother’s Holocaust Restitution Claim

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 29, 2015 at 10:03 AM

As I prepare for a trip to Vienna for next week’s International Bar Association Annual Meeting, there is some topical restitution news, but it is hardly good. The imminent incarceration of Stephan Templ, a journalist and historian, for the omission of another relative from his mother’s application for Holocaust compensation, is as bizarre as it is disheartening. One hopes that a pardon, his last available recourse, will soon be forthcoming.

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Topics: Maria Altmann, Reibpartie, Robert Amsterdam, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Der Standard, Stephan Templ, Nazi Looting, Scrubbing Parties, Ringstrasse, Ambassador Manz, Museum of Modern Art, Holocaust, Beethoven Frieze, Lothar Furth, Unser Wien: “Arisierung” auf österreichisch, Heinz Fischer, Restitution, Elisabeth Kretschmer, National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victi, Egon Schiele, World War II, Eva Blimlinger, Portrait of Wally, Austria, The Missing Image, Natural History Museum, Ruth Beckermann, Gustav Klimt, Albertinaplatz, Our Vienna: “Aryanization” Austrian Style, Kurt Hankiewicz, Vienna, Anschluss, Baldur von Schirach, Limbach Commission, International Bar Association, Tina Walzer

REMINDER: Art Crime and Cultural Heritage: Fakes, Forgeries, and Looted and Stolen Art at NYU June 4-6

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 27, 2015 at 5:41 AM

I am looking forward to next week’s Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. The program is as follows, and promises to be a fascinating event.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., On the Shore of the Seine, Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Paysage Bords de Seine, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Symposium at NYU June 4-6, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 1, 2015 at 6:49 AM

I am pleased to be taking part in the upcoming Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. I’m very much looking forward to learning from my co-panelists and the other participants. Registration is available here.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

The Woman in Gold: Why the Altmann Case Matters

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 10, 2015 at 6:35 AM

The release last week of The Woman in Gold, the feature film adaptation of The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds as Maria Altmann and her attorney E. Randol Schoenberg, respectively, as well as Tatiana Maslany as the younger Altmann and Daniel Brühl as Austrian journalist Hubertus Czernin, is an important opportunity to reflect on the legal importance of the case. Even today, the case provides lessons about the way some victims are still treated, and how one individual can make sure the past is never forgotten. The looting of Jewish art collections was a concerted effort whose prominence should never be forgotten. And perhaps even more, it robs those who did survive of the dignity of remembering their family experiences. Consider: the next time you gather with your extended family, look around the room. Pick something that you’re accustomed to seeing when the family meets. Now, imagine it had been stolen or surrendered under duress, and was hanging on the wall of a national collection that denied it had been taken. How would you feel? This is the dilemma faced by many claimants, and it is precisely why Altmann matters so much.

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Topics: Maria Altmann, The Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, Guelph Treasure, The Woman in Gold, Daniel Brühl, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Academy of Fine Arts, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Hitler, Tatiana Maslany, Anne Marie O’Connor, Supreme Court, A Few Good Men, Belvedere, E. Randol Schoenberg, World Jewish Congress, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Ryan Reynolds, FSIA, expropriation exception”, Restitution, Neue Galerie, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Switzerland, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, Helen Mirren, Museums, Fritz Altmann, Gustav Klimt, Vienna, Welfenschatz, Hubertus Czernin, Ronald Lauder, Austrian National Gallery

Austrian Committee Recommends Against Restitution of Klimt Beethoven Frieze

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 9, 2015 at 7:16 AM

As expected, the Austria’s Advisory Committee (Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die Rückgabe von Kunstgegenständen aus den Österreichischen Bundesmuseen und Sammlungen, BGBl. I Nr. 181/1998 i.d.F. BGBl. I Nr. 117/2009, (Kunstrückgabegesetz)) issued a decision on Friday with respect to the Lederer family’s claim to the famous Beethoven Frieze. In a lengthy opinion, the Committee recommended against restitution, prompting widespread speculation about what the claimants would do next. The mural is installed at Vienna's iconic Secession Museum (my photograph of the museum exterior, taken today, is below), and is one of the icons of fin-de-siècle Vienna.

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Topics: Guelph Treasure, Kunstrückgabebeirat, Galerie St. Etienne, Strasbourg, European Court of Human Rights, Marc Weber, Beethoven Frieze, Beethovenfries, Restitution, Jane Kallir, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Lanter Rechtsanwälte, Secession Museum, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna

Development May be Coming Soon In Klimt Beethoven Frieze Case

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 4, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Der Standard in Austria reported this week that a recommendation is expected on Friday in the claim by the heirs of Erich Lederer to the famous Klimt Beethoven Frieze in the Secession Museum in Vienna. The issue in this case is not a Nazi-era theft per se, but the effect of Austria’s post-war restitution law, which returned ownership to the Lederer family (it was looted from Erich Lederer under the Nazi) but forbade export, leading to a sale. The Lederer family has argued that that amounts to a second taking. As I made no secret last week with regard to Germany’s intended National Cultural Property Designation for the Welfenschatz that my clients have sued to recover, this kind of export prohibition is now recognized for what it is: an effort to hinder restitution. The same kind of claim was made against the Leopold Museum in Vienna for Portrait of Wally, namely, the allegation that the post-war sale was not valid under the circumstances because of the export prohibition. That case settled in 2010, the painting remains in Vienna.

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Topics: BGBl. I Nr. 181/1998 i.d.F. BGBl. I Nr. 117/2009, Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Leopold Museum, Limbach Commission, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Pure Love of Art versus Mere Investment in London March 26-27, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 23, 2015 at 5:07 AM

The Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Committee of the International Bar Association (of which I am a member) will be sponsoring an event March 26-27, 2015 at Sotheby’s in London. The IBA Individual Tax and Private Client Committee is also a co-sponsor, in connection with the IBA European Regional Forum. Sotheby’s is located at 34-35 New Bond Street in London.

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Topics: Raul-Angelo Papotti, Farrer & Co, Karen Sanig, Daniel Simon Collyer Bristow, Helly Nahmed Gallery, The Princely Collections, Lucian Simmons Steven Thomas, Art Finance, Mary Romano, Rina Pantalony, Philip Hoffman, International Julius Baer, Luke Dugdale, Helly Nahmad, UGGC Avocats, Studio Legale Jacobacci & Associati, Mark Cornell, UK Government Art Collection, ICOM, Daniel Tunkel Howard Kennedy, Peter Polak, David Arendt, Adrian Parkhouse, Diana Wierbicki, Paris, Guy Simonius, Bloomberg, Johann Kräftner, Art Cultural Institutions and Heritage Committee o, Columbia University, Geneva; Wendy Philips, Herrick, ARIS Title, Melanie Gerlis The Art Newspaper, Jasper Sharp, Sandrine Giroud, Cadell & Co, Scotland Yard, Lalive, Jean-Francois Canat, Houston Francesca von Habsburg, 1858 Ltd Art Advisory, Viola Reikhel-Bolot, UCLA School of Law, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Stephen D Brodie, Fine Art Wealth Management, The Fine Art Fund Group, Marlborough Contemporary, Los Angeles, Randall Willette, Events, Massimo Sterpi, Luxembourg, Sherri North Cohen, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions, Le Freeport, Kunsthistorisches Museum, LIECHTENSTEIN, Adrian George, Fabrizio Moretti, Alfredo Perez, Mishcon de Reya¸ George Bailey, TEFAF Maastricht, Mark Stephens, Dick Ellis, IBA Individual Tax and Private Client Committee, Goldsmiths London University, Andrew Renton, Withers, Sotheby's, Legal Issues in Museum Administration, Vaduz, Zürich, IBA, Vienna, Pure Love of Art versus Mere Investment, New York

Austria Restitution Advisory Commission Defers Klimt Beethoven Frieze Decision, No Reasons Given

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 4, 2014 at 10:40 AM

There was a curious non-development today in Austria concerning the dispute over Gustav Klimt’s famed “Beethoven Frieze” located in the Secession Building in Vienna. At issue is whether a post-war sale by Jewish survivors to Austria of a famous painting that the law of the time did not allow to be exported can be considered a sale under duress and justify restitution.

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Topics: Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Germany’s Limbach Commission, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Gesamtkunstwerk, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Museums, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Vienna Natural History Museum Restitutes Botanical Drawings to Nazi Victims' Heirs, Acknowledges the Too-Often-Ignored Reality of Persecution and Coerced Sales

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 6, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Vienna’s Natural History Museum (Naturhistorisches Museum) has restituted 177 botanical drawings and prints to the heirs of Dr. Ernst Moritz Kronfeld. The restitution, while somewhat delayed following a 2011 recommendation by Austria’s Advisory Council under the country’s Law for the Restitution of Artworks from the Austrian National Museums (Bundesgesetz über die Rückgabe von Kunstgegenstände aus den Österreichischen Bundesmuseen), highlights the increasing sophistication of that Advisory Council, particularly compared to recent steps backward by the Limbach Commission in Germany. Austria, once a lightening rod for criticism about confronting wartime and Nazi provenance issues, returned these drawings because of the clear problems with trying to portray any 1941 conveyance by a Viennese Jew as an arms’ length transaction—even without direct evidence of coercion. Just as importantly, it brushed away the defense that the drawings had been acquired in good faith as an excuse to continued possession, a dramatic change from the perspective usually taken by civil law countries.

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Topics: Theresienstadt, Lvov, Nationalbibliothek, Galicia, Law for the Restitution of Artworks from the Austr, Germany, Nuremberg, Nazi Victims, Treblinka, Dr. Rudolf Engel, Naturhistorisches Museum, Henry David Thoreau, Hermann Goring, Hitler Youth, Mario Lanzer, Gauleiter, Dr. Ernst Moritz Kronfeld, National Library, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, Bundesgesetz über die Rückgabe von Kunstgegenständ, Restitution, Clara Levy, Hapsburg, Luxembourg, Vienna Natural History Museum, Ryk van der Schot, Empress Maria Theresia, World War II, The Three Graces, Franz Stefan von Lothringen, Lemberg, Ukraine, Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquinn, Rosalia Kronfeld, Austro-Hungarian empire, Drei Grazien, Lovis Corinth, Museums, Israeli Cultural Society, Austria’s Advisory Council, Gustav Klimt, Schönbrunn, Vienna, Anschluss, Welfenschatz, Baldur von Schirach, Limbach Commission

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