Art Law Report

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

Museums in Bamberg and Karlsruhe Recognize a Sale Under Duress For What it Was, Seek to Do Right Thing

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 30, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Restitution policy at the federal and state level in Germany in recent months seems to have taken a certain direction that has been cause for criticism. Whether it is the recent decisions by the Limbach Commission that ignore longstanding law about sales under duress, the odd decision by the Federal Republic of Germany to resist a lawsuit over the Max Liebermann painting found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment that the Gurlitt Task Force has already recommended be restituted, or the resistance to the claims by the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy heirs to Picasso’s Madame Soler, the trend has been towards obstruction and resistance rather than transparency and reconciliation. Notwithstanding the recent announcement of the Center for Cultural Property losses (the Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste about which the jury is still out), this is cause for concern.

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Topics: Katharina Siefert, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Cornelius Gurlitt, Karlsruhe Kunsthalle, Freien Kunst- und Ritterschießen, Badische Landesmuseum, Max Liebermann, Bamberg, Gurlitt Collection, Woman in a Theatre Balcony, Lothar Franz von Schönborn, Madame Soler, Schönborn’sche Löwenpokal, Heinrich and Emma Budge, Reich Ministry for Art- and Museum Objects, Schönborn Lion Cup, Restitution, Upper Franconia, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Free and Knightly Art of Shooting, World War II, Elector-Bishop, Kurfürst, Reichserziehungsministerium für Kunst- und Museums, Kurt Martin, www.lostart.de, Center for Cultural Property, Museums, Fürst-Bischof, Picasso, Federal Republic of Germany, Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, Limbach Commission, Oberfranken, Prince-Elector of Mainz

Germany Announces "Center for Cultural Property Losses": Real Progress or Window Dressing?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 9, 2014 at 5:39 AM

After numerous intimations by German Minister of Culture Monika Grütters, the German federal cabinet announced on Wednesday the official formation of the German Center for Cultural Property Losses (Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste). Citing its “awareness of the special responsibility for the reworking of Nazi art theft,” the ruling CDU coalition issued this statement (my translation):

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste, Germany, Minister of Culture Monika Grütters, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Lex Gurlitt, Koordinierungsstelle für Lost Art in Magdeburg, Magdeburg, enteignete Kunst, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, Task Force, Bundesländer, Lost Art, www.lostart.de, Limbach Commission, Center for Cultural Property Losses

Gurlitt Task Force Issues Second Public Recommendation, Urges Restitution of Liebermann painting to David Toren—Lawsuit Not Over Yet

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 15, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Eileen Kinsella at ArtNet news reported today that the Gurlitt Taskforce has recommended the restitution of the Max Liebermann painting Riders on the Beach (Reiter am Strand) to David Toren, a New York man who left Germany at age 14 in 1939. His great uncle David Friedmann lived in Breslau, the capital of Silesia (now part of Poland, known as Wrocław). The Nazis catalogued and seized Friedmann’s art collection in 1939-40, and the Liebermann painting appears on those records. It was later found among those 1,280 objects seized from Gurlitt a little over two years ago when he aroused suspicion returning from Switzerland with a large amount of cash.

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Topics: Breslau, Eileen Kinsella, Wrocław, Gurlitt Task Force, Max Liebermann, Silesia, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Reiter am Strand, August Matteis, Restitution, David Toren, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), World War II, Switzerland, degenerate art, Poland, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, www.lostart.de, Berner Zeitung, Riders on the Beach, David Friedmann, ArtNet news

Curiouser and Curiouser: Still More Gurlitt Paintings Found, Nazi-Looting Connections Unknown

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 25, 2014 at 7:25 AM

As if the Cornelius/Hildebrand Gurlitt saga needed any more complications as the world awaits the official decision by the Kunstmuseum Bern about whether to accept the appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt’s heir, even more artwork has apparently turned up. Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Wall Street Journal have reported that one picture and several sculptures in the very apartment from which the original trove was seized more than two years ago. Among the sculptures are apparently a Degas and a Rodin. Nothing else seems known about the works or their ownership history, or whether they might be among works that Hildebrand Gurlitt sold or acquired as "degenerate" (side note: the Victoria and Albert Museum's copy of the Degenerate Art Action register is currently on display in New York at the Neue Galerie's exhibition of that title. While it is available online, it is most certainly worth a visit before the show ends).

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Victoria and Albert Museum, Rodin, Cornelius Gurlitt, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Gurlitt Task Force, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Degas, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Neue Galerie, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, Kunstmuseum Bern, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst

The Next Gurlitt? Records from Weinmüller Auction House Made Available Online

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 28, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Among the many legacies of the Gurlitt saga is a renewed focus on the importance of Nazi-approved art dealers like Karl Haberstock to the expropriation, outlawing, and re-sale of art either owned by Jewish collectors or which was thematically disapproved by the Nazi state. Relatedly, it has served as a reminder of the often cursory review that many of these men received after the war, and the acceptance of their proffered explanations, like those of Hildebrand Gurlitt, that “everything was destroyed in a bombing attack.” Now, the German Central Institute for Art history is set to make public the records of Adolf Weinmüller and his eponymous auction house (later renamed Neumeister).

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Topics: Meike Hopp, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Was einmal war, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Lost Art Database, Schwabinger Taskforce, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Karl Haberstock, Kende, Entartete Kunst, Munich, Restitution, Wien, World War II, degenerate art, www.lostart.de, München, Adolf Weinmüller, Neumeister Auction House, Aryanized, Sophie Lille, Unser Wien ‘Arisierung’ auf Österreich, Nazi Raubkunst, Vienna, Tina Walzer

The Gurlitt Deal—Prosecutor Gives Collection Back, Agreement Leaves Questions About Process and Transparency

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The Augsburg prosecutor for the State of Bavaria announced today that in connection with Monday’s agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt, the 1,280 works of art seized from Gurlitt’s apartment in 2012 have been “returned” to Gurlitt. Though it does not appear that the objects have physically changed locations, the state officially lifted the seizure, and now has access to the collection for further provenance research pursuant to the agreement, rather than the compulsory process by which it retrieved them.

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Topics: German Ministry of Culture, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Cornelius Gurlitt, Bundesministerium für Kultur und Medien, Breslau, Augsburg, Willi Korte, London, Max Liebermann, Claude Monet, Christoph Edel, Gurlitt Collection, Ingrid Begreen-Merkel, Alt Ausee, Hildebrandt Gurlitt, stolen art, State of Bavaria, Reiter am Strand, Salzburg, Restitution, David Toren, Müncher Kunstfund, World War II, Task Force, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Freistaat Bayern, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, www.lostart.de, Monika Grütters, Riders on the Beach, Raubkunst, Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz, Bavarian Ministry of Justice, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Breakthrough? Gurlitt Signs Agreement with Germany For Continued Research and Commits to Return of Art

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 7, 2014 at 7:07 AM

Whether Austrian Trove is Included So Far Unmentioned In Reports of Agreement

On the heels of last night’s “60 Minutes” treatment of the Gurlitt saga (which featured Willi Korte and Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, two participants at January’s Ersessene Kunst-Der Fall Gurlitt at which I also spoke), news has come today that Cornelius Gurlitt has signed an agreement with the German federal government and the Bavarian Ministry of Justice with respect to the artworks taken from his apartment in 2012. Where recent statements that he intended to return what had been stolen left that outcome entirely to his discretion, he now seems to have committed expressly to some sort of return protocol. The precise details are still unknown.

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Topics: German Ministry of Culture, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Cornelius Gurlitt, Bundesministerium für Kultur und Medien, Willi Korte, London, Claude Monet, Christoph Edel, Gurlitt Collection, Ingrid Begreen-Merkel, Alt Ausee, Hildebrandt Gurlitt, stolen art, Salzburg, Restitution, Müncher Kunstfund, Task Force, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, www.lostart.de, Monika Grütters, Raubkunst, Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz, Bavarian Ministry of Justice, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Limbach Advisory Commission Recommends Against German Restitution of “Guelph Treasure,” Focuses on Terms of 1929 Agreement for Intended Sale

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 26, 2014 at 11:54 AM

One of the issues exposed and exacerbated by the ongoing Gurlitt collection stalemate is the question of Germany’s restitution procedures with respect to art. As the Bavarian legislative proposal to abolish the statute of limitations for claims against bad-faith acquirers is considered by the Bundestag, the “German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultural Property Seized as a Result of Nazi Persecution, Especially Jewish Property” has issued a decision over what has become known as the “Guelph Treasure” (Welfenschatz) in the collection of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (SPK), the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The March 20, 2014 opinion (available, so far as I know, only in German at this point at www.lostart.de) underscores the issues around claims of sales under duress, and the appropriate present-day procedural remedy. Readers should also brush up on their medieval German history to keep up.

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Topics: Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV, German Supreme Commercial Court, Holy Roman Empire, Guelph Treasure, Bundeshandelsgericht, German Supreme Constitutional Court, Z.M. Hackenbroch, Karl Blechen, Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg, Niedersachsen, Karl Ernst Baumann, Act of State, Kingdom of Hanover. Königreich Hannover, Dr Alexander Lewin, Prussia, Lower Saxony, Anselm Feuerbach, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Preussen, Hans Sachs, German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultu, Hessen, Fogg Art Museum, Congress of Vienna, Julius and Clara Freund, Kurhannover, Dresdner Bank, Hermann Goring, Austrian Supreme Court, Johann J. August von der Embde, House of Welf, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Wilhelm Leibl, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Harvard, Portrait der Familie von Dithfurth, Gurlitt, Restitution, George I, J.S. Goldschmidt, World War II, Peasant Girl without a Hat and with a White Headcl, Queen Victoria, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Art Institute of Chicago, Kurfürsten, Jutta Limbach, www.lostart.de, Soviet Union, Gustav Klimt, Bundesverfassungsgericht, Welfenschatz, Limbach Commission, I. Rosenbaum, Electors

"Gurlitt Facts" Website Posted as Part of Public Relations Offensive, Arguments Strain Credulity

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 18, 2014 at 5:40 AM

Cornelius Gurlitt’s legal team has posted a new website called "Gurlitt Info" in similar (but not identical) German and English versions that is so contradicted by the repeated disclosures by the German government, that it is hard to imagine its intended purpose. As a public relations move, it is a disaster. The tactic may explain why the Augsburg prosecutor rejected the possibility of a deal with Gurlitt: he knows what he is dealing with. At the same time, the draft amendment to the statute of limitations, the Cultural Property Restitution Law (or "Lex Gurlitt," as it has somewhat misleadingly become known) is now formally before the Bundesrat for consideration as to whether to introduce the draft to the full Bundestag and possible enactment as the law of Germany. Bavarian Cultural Minister Winfried Bausbeck discusses the law here in a recent interview.

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Topics: Cultural Property Restitution Law, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Bayern, Nazi stolen art, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Gurlitt Info, Führermuseum, Germany, Gurlitt Collection, Lex Gurlitt, Red Army, Entartete Kunst, Winfried Bausbeck, Gurlitt Facts, Beutekunst, Salzburg, Bundestag, Bundesrat, Gurlitt, Restitution, Statute of Limitations, Augusburg, Bavaria, Linz, Der Spiegel, World War II, Task Force, degenerate art, Cultural Minister, Austria, Justizminister, www.lostart.de, Soviet Union, Washington Principles, Raubkunst, Verjährung, Kulturgut-Rückwehr-Gesetz, Münchner Kunstfund

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