Readers of the Art Law Report know that for several years running now, I have enjoyed events in Geneva organized by the Art Law Foundation and the Responsible Art Market Initiative in January/February. I am happy to report that this year is no exception. RAM is presenting its latest event “A Responsible Art Market in Practice,” to be held on Friday February 1, 2019 at the Palexpo in the venue of the artgenève fair. After joining the RAM Taskforce and contributing to its Toolkit and country guide for the US, I am pleased to be presenting one of the case studies, in between a roster of distinguished speakers and experts. I hope to see you there!
Topics: Responsible Art Market initiative, Geneva, Art Law Foundation, Palexpo, artgenève, Georgina Adam, Justine Ferland, Art Law Centre, Artcurial, Carine Decroi, Philippe Davet, Blondeau & Cie, Suzanne Gyorgy, Phillips, Mathilde Heaton, CitiBank, Aude Lemogne, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Jean-Bernard Schmid, Ochsner & associés, Sandrine Giroud, Lalive, Roland Foord, Stephenson Harwood, Andreas Ritter, Association Marché d’Art Suisse, Irina Tarsis, Financial Times, The Art Newspaper
I am pleased to be speaking on a panel at the upcoming Global Auction House Summit presented by Invaluable, the leading technology partner for online auction services. I will be presenting on the issues of Managing Reputation & Risk, and look forward to a lively discussion. The conference schedule is reprinted below, and registration is available here.
Topics: Global Auction House Summit, John Albrecht, Leonard Joel, Martina Batovic, Dorotheum, Evan Beard, US Trust, Anna Brady, The Art Newspaper, Anthony Calnek, Sotheby's, ARTMYN, Brendan Ciecko, Cuseum, Andrea Danese, Athena Art Finance, Jakob Dupont, Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of Fine Art, Pierre Fautrel, Obvious, Andy Foster, Phillips, Melanie Gerlis, Financial Times, Dr. Anna-Sophie Hollenders, Raue LLP, Lori Hotz, Lobus, Bas Kuiper, AMFAD, Sophie MacPherson, Christopher McKeogh, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Julian Radcliffe, Art Loss Register, Gene Shapiro, Shapiro Auctions, Sarah Wendell Sherrill, Mary-Alice Stack, Creative United, Rob Weisberg, Invaluable, Georgina C. Winthrop, Grogan & Company, London, Proxy Voting Policies, Institutional Shareholder Services, Affordable Housing, Real Estate Development, Events, Auctions
This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the Washington Conference on Nazi-Era Assets and the corollary Washington Principles on Nazi-confiscated Art that have driven much of the conversation since then. Apollo magazine published my thoughts on the impact of the Washington Principles, which I reproduce below (British spelling, thank you), as well as a thoughtful piece by Martin P. Levy (a member of the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel, one of the commissions created in response to the Washington Principles).
Topics: Washington Principles, Washington Conference on Nazi-Era Assets, Apollo Magazine, UK Spoliation Advisory Panel, National Gallery in London, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, SPK, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Nazi-looted art, Claims Conference, Advisory Commission, Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016, HEAR Act, JUST Act
I am honored to be one of the presenters at an upcoming symposium at Brandeis University entitled "Looted Art for Sale" that was postponed last winter. This interdisciplinary conference will provide an international perspective on the last twenty years of art recovery. Speakers include former Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, a primary leader in the creation of U. S. restitution policies, Kim Oosterlink, Victoria Reed, and Inge Reist.
"Looted Art for Sale" will be sponsored by the Brandeis Center for German and European Studies, the Rosenberg Institute of Global Finance at Brandeis International Business School, the Mandel Center for the Humanities and the Department of Fine Arts.
My presentation will be entitled “Who Makes the Rules? The High-Stakes Legal Conflicts Over Looted Art.” I can scarcely claim to belong among such excellent company, so if for their perspectives if not for mine, I encourage anyone interested to attend. Registration is available here.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the German Lost Art Foundation had removed several paintings once owned by the Viennese cabaret actor Fritz Grünbaum from the Lost Art database. While the history of these objects is hotly contested, it was a particularly strange choice given that Grünbaum’s heirs just won a judgment earlier this year that the works by Schiele must be returned to them—by reason of Nazi duress. For a database that has never been suggested as an adjudication of rights but rather as a repository of notice to the world of possible title issues, it was a perplexing choice. Against the backdrop of the party that the German government and the foundation are throwing themselves in November for which few outsiders have been able to register, the explanation appears much less benign particularly against the backdrop of the government’s historical revisionism in U.S. federal court litigation.
Topics: German Lost Art Foundation, Fritz Grünbaum, New York Times, Nazi-looted art, NS Raubkunst, Egon Schiele, Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (Torso), Kieslinger, Mathilde Lukacs, A Tragic Fate, Cornelius Gurlitt, laches, Woman in a Black Pinafore, Woman Hiding her Face, res judicata, Charles E. Ramos, Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, Magdeburg, Bavaria, Germany, Task Force, Guelph Treasure, Holocaust, National Gallery
After four months of silence, the Berkshire Museum suddenly demanded last week that my clients dismiss their still-pending lawsuit over the governance of the museum by claiming that the April decision by the Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court that lifted the binding restrictions that the sales of its art collection would have violated somehow put an end to my clients’ case (which has been scheduled for oral argument on September 4, 2018 in Boston). By letter on Tuesday, I explained that the museum was quite mistaken indeed. Yesterday, the museum escalated and filed a request that Appeals Court simply dismiss the appeal, and actually accused my clients of acting in bad faith. The museum also saw fit to put the text of the letter into a press release that it circulated widely through its public relations team.
This afternoon we filed our response, the text of which is reproduced below. Put simply, while the lawsuit quite explicitly sought to stop the sale of the museum’s art collection, the fact that some of the works have already been sold does not begin to answer the questions that the lawsuit raised.
My clients look forward to the argument after Labor Day.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has upheld the judgment against Marei von Saher on her claims against the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena to recover Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder. The Cranachs belonged to Von Saher’s father-in-law Jacques Goudstikker, a renowned Dutch Jewish art dealer who fled the Netherlands. Yesterday’s decision was the latest in a complicated case, holding that the claim could not proceed because it would conflict with a judgment made by the Dutch government—in a case about paintings that no one disputes were looted by the Nazis but which the Norton Simon refuses to return. Notably, the Ninth Circuit upheld the dismissal entered two years ago by the District Court, but for different reasons. Where the trial court had held in 2016 that Von Saher was not entitled to the paintings by applying substantive Dutch post-war law, the Ninth Circuit yesterday held that it could not entertain the question because it involved a so-called “Act of State,” a doctrine under which courts will decline to review certain kinds of cases that implicate sovereign acts. It was not a complete surprise—the appeals court had hinted at the possibility of applying the doctrine back in 2014 when it remanded the case on one of its multiple trips to the appellate court—but was a curious application of it to a sale by the Dutch government, an act that is quintessentially commercial, not sovereign. It remains to be seen what Von Saher will do next. Von Saher is a complicated dispute that deserved its day in court, not the back of the hand out of “respect” for an “official” act that never actually happened, or an official act that this most recent decision actually contradicts.
Topics: Alois Miedl, Hermann Goering, CORVO, Marei Von Saher, Jacques Goudstikker, Ninth Circuit, Act of State, A Tragic Fate, George Stroganoff, Commisssie Rechtsverkeer in oorlogstijd, Royal Decree 100, Royal Decree 133, Royal Decree A6, Restitution, HEAR Act, Guelph Treasure, Nazi-looted art
I am pleased to be taking part in a symposium at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles on September 26, 2018, “The Future of Nazi Looted Art Recovery in the US and Abroad.” Presented by Cypress LLP and the Sotheby’s Institute of Art/Claremont Graduate University, the program assembles an impressive group of presenters in whose company I’m grateful to be included. Registration is available here, and the schedule is below:
Topics: Nazi-looted art, Daniel McClean, Cypress LLP, Jonathan Neil, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Skirball Center, Eyal Dolev, Simon Goodman, The Orpheus Clock, Jonathan Petropolous, Claremont McKenna College, The Faustian Bargain, The Art World in Nazi Germany, Dr. Lynn Rother, Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, HEAR Act, Laurence Eisenstein, Eisenstein Malanchuk LLP, Lothar Fremy, Rosbach & Fremy, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Thaddeus Stauber, Nixon Peabody LLP, Mark Labaton, Stephen Clark, Getty Institute, Simon Frankel, Covington & Burling LLP, Anne Webber, Commission for Looted Art in Europe, Bob Muller, René Gimpel, Lucian Simmons, Sotheby's, Isabel von Klitzing
(WASHINGTON-July 10, 2018) The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the right of the heirs to the so-called Guelph Treasure (known in German as the Welfenschatz) to seek restitution in U.S. courts for the value of the treasured art collection. The appellate court rejected Defendants’ arguments that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction, or that Germany’s treatment of its Jews in the 1930s should be immune from judicial scrutiny. While the Federal Republic of Germany itself was dismissed as a defendant, the actual possessor and key party in interest (the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, or SPK) must now prove that a 1935 transfer of the collection by a consortium of Jewish art dealers to Hermann Goering’s minions was a legitimate transaction if they are to retain the collection.
Topics: Guelph Treasure, Welfenschatz, Germany, SPK, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, FSIA, D.C. Circuit, Consortium, Genocide Convention, J.S. Goldschmidt, I. Rosenbaum, Z.M. Hackenbroch, Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Prussia, Luftwaffe, Reichstag, Gestapo, flight taxes, Baltimore Sun, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, NS Raubkunst, Nazi-looted art