Art Law Report

Conflicting Reports About Possible Acceptance of Gurlitt Bequest by Kunstmuseum Bern

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 13, 2014 at 7:02 AM

There have been multiple and conflict reports in the last 48 hours about whether the Kunstmuseum Bern had reached a decision to accept the inheritance from and appointment as heir by Cornelius Gurlitt. Gurlitt, who died in early May shortly after reaching an agreement with the Bavarian prosecutor concerning the 1,280 works of art seized from his apartment on suspicion of Nazi-looting connections, unexpectedly named the Swiss museum as the sole beneficiary of his will, and as his heir and representative. Just last week, the news was that the Kunstmuseum had resolved to decide by late November, no later than six months after being advised of Gurlitt’s bequest.

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Topics: Reuters, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Tages Anzeiger, Munich, Christoph Schäublin, Restitution, Bavaria, Ruth Gilgen Hamisultane, World War II, Swiss, Austria, Sonntagszeitung, Kunstmuseum Bern, Berner Zeitung, Zürich, Nazi Raubkunst, Münchner Kunstfund

Bavaria and Germany Move to Dismiss Gurlitt Litigation, But Raise Questions About Why They Are Resisting a Lawsuit Over Painting that Task Force Recommended They Restitute to David Toren

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on October 10, 2014 at 11:04 AM

To date, only one lawsuit has been filed in the United States related to the seizure from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment of some 1,280 works of art, a story that broke a year ago with the concern about the objects’ Nazi-looting connections via his father Hildebrand Gurlitt (the view here last winter was that the longer Germany failed to address the situation comprehensively, the more likely such U.S. litigation became). That lawsuit, brought by David Toren, seeks the return of Two Riders on the Beach (Zwei Ritter am Strand), by Max Liebermann. Germany and Bavaria moved to dismiss the case yesterday, which is particularly puzzling given that among the very few determinations made by the Gurlitt Task Force (in August), it is that the Liebermann should be returned. The cynical view is that they are looking to forestall future claims, but it is past time for the painting to be returned.

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Max Liebermann, Germany, Silesia, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, bailment, Entartete Kunst, FSIA, Restitution, Bavaria, David Toren, Zwei Ritter am Meer, Free State of Bavaria, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), Looted Art, World War II, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Freistaat Bayern, Kunstmuseum Bern, Riders on the Beach, Federal Republic of Germany, Raubkunst, David Friedmann, Münchner Kunstfund

Kunstmuseum Bern Still Undecided About Gurlitt Inheritance as Regional Politics Loom

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 4, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Almost none of the legal issues flowing from the seizure of some 1,280 works of art from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment in 2012, his agreement with the Bavarian prosecutor, and the ongoing review of the collection for connections to Nazi looting can be resolved until his named heir—the Kunstmuseum Bern—decides whether or not to accept that appointment. When the one-year review deadline passes (with only two public recommendations made so far), it is entirely unclear who will stand for Gurlitt’s "rights" over what is left.

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Beat Giauque, Cornelius Gurlitt, Grosser Rat, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, canton, Paul Klee, Ittigen, Trubschachen, Samuel Leuenberger, Kunstmuseum Bern, Gurlitt Erbe, Museums, Berner Zeitung, Münchner Kunstfund, Kanton Bern

Great-Nephew May Challenge Gurlitt Will and Appointment of Kunstmuseum Bern as Sole Heir, Second Will is Confirmed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 13, 2014 at 6:18 AM

When news first broke that Cornelius Gurlitt had named the Kunstmuseum in Bern as his sole heir (and not merely as the recipient of his art collection), we wondered whether some putative heir to Gurlitt—and thus to at least part of the art collection under suspicion for containing Nazi-looted art—might challenge that appointment.

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Topics: Barcelona, Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Wolfgang Seybold, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Spain, Munich, Münchner Gerichtspräsident Gerhard Zierl, 60 Minutes, Restitution, ORF, codicil, testamentary capacity, World War II, Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Ekkeheart Gurlitt, probate, Nazi Raubkunst, CBS, Testament, Münchner Kunstfund, Morley Safer

Gurlitt Can’t Get His Story Straight About Salzburg Trove

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 27, 2014 at 6:30 AM

As confusion swirls around Cornelius Gurlitt’s actual plans, one of the issues is that his team is not speaking consistently with one voice. In particular, there are odd developments about the artworks that Gurlitt himself had removed from his Salzburg home in February—oddities that are worth weighing when considering the recent public statements about his supposed willingness to return some of the art. The fact that Gurlitt’s team itself has undergone a shakeup is also worthy of note.

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Stefan Edel, www.Gurlitt.Info, Mary Lane, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Sitting Woman, stolen art, Meike Hoffmann, Salzburg, Restitution, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, New York Times, Raubkunst, Münchner Kunstfund, Limbach Commission, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Gurlitt Art Return Click-Bait and Switch—Don’t Get Fooled by Headlines

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 27, 2014 at 6:17 AM

It was hardly surprising that news that Cornelius Gurlitt was willing to return artworks taken from his apartment in 2012 that had once been taken from Jews spread quickly. What is regrettable is how quickly the headlines seem to have gone viral that he is going—or even willing—to return all of the paintings. Nothing that he or his representatives have said supports that contention. From the New York Times, for example:

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, www.Gurlitt.Info, Mary Lane, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Sitting Woman, stolen art, Meike Hoffmann, Salzburg, Restitution, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, New York Times, Raubkunst, Münchner Kunstfund, Limbach Commission, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

New York Man Sues Germany For Liebermann Found With Gurlitt, but Allegations Face Real FSIA and Pleading Challenges

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 6, 2014 at 1:53 AM

When I spoke in Heidelberg in January at the Institute for Jewish Studies conference “Appropriated Art—the Gurlitt Case,” one of the points I stressed in discussing U.S. restitution litigation was that the longer the Gurlitt case went unresolved (and do not be distracted by the “Voice of Russia” article that is being circulated as “Holocaust victims’ heirs to reclaim Nazi-looted artwork if Gurlitt bill passsed”­—it is not remotely a simple or likely as that), the more certain it would be that litigation would follow in the U.S. Gurlitt himself and his legal team have done their part recently to make any meaningful agreement impossible, and in the absence of unilateral action by Germany (which would probably be illegal), it has now come to pass. The first civil claim related to paintings seized from Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment has now been filed by David Toren in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Free State of Bavaria and the Federal Republic of Germany.

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Topics: Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Voice of Russia, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Hungary, de Csepel, Max Liebermann, Germany, Silesia, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Appropriated Art the Gurlitt Case, Hans Sachs, Baron Herzog, bailment, Madame Soler, Entartete Kunst, FSIA, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, conversion, Bavaria, David Toren, Zwei Ritter am Meer, Free State of Bavaria, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), Looted Art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Pinakothek der Moderne, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Freistaat Bayern, Ersessene Kunst¬—der Fall Gurlitt, Picasso, Riders on the Beach, Federal Republic of Germany, Raubkunst, David Friedmann, Institute for Jewish Studies, Münchner Kunstfund, Heidelberg

The Gurlitt Counteroffensive Continues: Complaint Filed for Return of Paintings

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 19, 2014 at 7:12 AM

According to multiple news reports and his attorneys, Cornelius Gurlitt has filed a complaint for the return of the paintings seized in 2012 by the Augsburg prosecutor. Copies are not yet available, but the Gurlitt PR website www.Gurlitt.info" has a release that states as follows (thus far only in German). Stay tuned for developments if and when the document becomes available.

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Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Complaint, Nazi stolen art, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Gurlitt Info, www.Gurlitt.Info, Augsburg, Germany, Tido Park, Gurlitt Collection, Beschwerde, Entartete Kunst, Gurlitt Facts, Beutekunst, Gurlitt, Restitution, Statute of Limitations, World War II, Derek Setz, degenerate art, Staatsanwalt, Strafprozessordnung (StPO) Paragraph 304, Soviet Union, Raubkunst, Verjährung, Münchner Kunstfund

"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

Cornelius Gurlitt’s Lawyers File Privacy Complaint

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 3, 2014 at 11:24 AM

In one of the first affirmative steps taken by Cornelius Gurlitt since the revelation of the seizure of a large number of artworks with possible Nazi-seizure connections, Gurlitt has filed a criminal complaint concerning his allegations of violations of his privacy rights. According to Gurlitt’s attorney, “The surrender of investigative information to the press, and with it the severe damage to his personal rights is not tolerable in any way for Mr. Gurlitt. . . . This is a blatant violation of official secrecy.” Another of his lawyers went on to express concern for trust in the process in which details were being given to the media. In particular, Gurlitt’s team were most upset about photographs in the Focus piece that broke the story of Gurlitt’s apartment.

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Topics: Stuttgart, Das Alte Schauspielhaus, Cologne, Irina Alter, veschollene Kunst, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Wiedergutmachung, Annette Weber, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Corinna Budras, S. Lane Faison, Universität Heidelberg, Augsburg, Institute for Jewish Studies Heidelberg, Aryanization, Anat Feinberg, Willi Korte, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Monuments Man, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Fall Gurlitt, Köln, Nazi-looted art, Henry Keazor, Gurlitt Collection, Appropriated Art the Gurlitt Case, Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg, Hochschule für Judische Studien Heidelberg, Eberhard Karls-Universität Tübingen, Emily Löffler, CSU, Williams College, Judische Allgemeine, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Universität Zürich, Arisierung, Lehrstuhl für Römisches Recht und Privatrecht, Nürnberger Institut, Rückgabe, Rhein-Neckar Morgenweb, Beutekunst, 'Stürmer-Bibliothek', Magdeburg, Daniel Krochmalnik, Ersessene Kunst, Katja Terlau, Art Loss Recovery Unit, Jim Tobias, Rhein-Neckar Zeitung, Fritz Backhaus, Gurlitt, Bavaria, Johannes Heil, Wien, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Lucas Elmenhorst, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Nürnberg, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Looted Art, „Sturmer-Library“, degenerate art, Boston, Seminar für Neuere Geschichte, Wolfgang Ernst, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Frieder Hepp, Verjährung, Vienna, Münchner Kunstfund, New York, FAZ Frankfurt, Felicitas Heiman-Jellinek

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