Art Law Report

Limbach Commission Rules Against Claimants to Restitution of “Three Graces” by Lovis Corinth in Unpersuasive Opinion

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on August 28, 2014 at 8:17 AM

The German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultural Property Seized as a Result of Nazi Persecution, Especially Jewish Property (Beratende Kommission) has issued its latest decision concerning allegedly Nazi-looted art in German museums. For the second case in a row after the widely (and wisely) derided opinion not to restitute the Welfenschatz or Guelph Treasure at the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin, the commission (known for its presiding member, former German Supreme Constitutional Court judge Jutta Limbach) has recommended against restitution, this time over the claim by heirs of Clara Levy to The Three Graces (Drei Grazien) by Lovis Corinth (1902/1904). The decision (available only in German) is riddled with poor logic and basic historical errors. In short, while it may be that the painting was indeed delivered to Clara Levy’s daughter in the United States at Clark’s express instruction, that is far less clear than the commission states, and its decision further makes a number of assumptions about the circumstances of Jews in occupied or about-to-be occupied territories that undermine its credibility considerably.

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Topics: Berlin, Else Bergmann, Schleifmühle, Guelph Treasure, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Ludwig Levy, Fritz Levy, Rita Hubbard, Germany, Nazi-looted art, bill of lading, Especially Jewish Property, Buchholz Gallery, Madame Soler, German Advisory Commission for the Return of Cultu, San Francisco, Entartete Kunst, Beratende Kommission, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, FSIA, Curt Valentin, expropriation exception”, Gurlitt, Restitution, Max Huggler, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Clara Levy, Sigfried Rosengart, Luxembourg, Henry Zacharias, Compagnie Generale Transatlantique Hol Lesquette, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Pinakothek der Moderne, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Jutta Limbach, Kunstmuseum Bern, Drei Grazien, Pablo Picasso, Lovis Corinth, Museums, Three Graces, Bavarian State Painting Collections, Federal Republic of Germany, Paula Levy, Kurt Buchholz, Welfenschatz, Limbach Commission, New York, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen

Lauder Wall Street Journal Nazi-Looted Art Editorial, Art Law Report Post, and the Response: Some Clarification and Context

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 18, 2014 at 5:32 AM

Two weeks ago, we posted an article entitled “Lauder Editorial on Stolen Art Fails the Glass House Test.” The metaphor was not intended to be complicated: it seemed inconsistent, to put it politely, for the honorary board chairman of a museum that has resisted restitution claims by asserting, for example, the statute of limitations and the laches defense, now to say that museums that do just that are “immoral.” Ultimately, we posited that restitution decisions are complicated and hard. It seemed an open question for example as to what, exactly, Ronald S. Lauder’s editorial "Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums" was designed to draw attention. Right on cue, another article appeared calling for the return of the Camille Pissarro in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation museum in Madrid (Rue St. Honoré, effet de pluie) claimed by the heirs of Lilly Cassirer. It is clear that the June 30, 2014 Art Law Report raised more than a few hackles, but we welcome discussion and criticism. An exchange of ideas is what we are here to foster, after all. In the end, however, some clarification shows that there is not really a disagreement here, but rather that the response highlights frustration with civil law countries' treatment of stolen art.

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Topics: Cristoph Bernoulli, Ronald S. Lauder, La bérgère, Norton Simon Museum, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Jr. Museum of Art, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscat, American Alliance of Museums, Fred Jones, University of Oklahoma, David Findlay Jr. Gallery, Judge Colleen McMahon, MoMA, Plundered Art, specific jurisdiction, Madame Soler, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 301, Adam, general jurisdiction, AAM, Museum of Modern Art, World Jewish Congress, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, David Findlay Galleries, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 302, Free State of Bavaria, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Switzerland, Pinakothek der Moderne, Leone Meyer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Wally, Freistaat Bayern, Weitzenhoffer, Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, AAMD, Association of Museum Directors, Eve, New York, Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums

Claims by Mendelssohn Bartholdy Heirs over Picasso "Madame Soler" Dismissed, Court Finds No FSIA Jurisdiction After Evidentiary Hearings

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed claims for ownership of Madame Soler by Pablo Picasso, currently at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Just as the relevance of Judge Jed Rakoff’s comments over another art restitution case brought by the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn Bartholdy unexpectedly came to the fore recently, Judge Rakoff’s decision is now the most recent in a line of frustrations for the heirs of Mendelssohn Bartholdy, a victim of Nazi persecution in Berlin in the 1930s. The ramifications of this case may be fairly narrow, however, as the case was premised on allegations of specific transactions in New York rather than general allegations about the conduct of Germany. The claimants could appeal, or perhaps turn to the Limbach Commission if they could be heard (the Pinakothek is a subdivision of Germany for jurisdictional analysis, but it’s unclear at first blush if the Commission would view this claim as within its province).

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Topics: Paul von Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Berlin, commercial activity exception, Cornelius Gurlitt, Florence Kesselstatt, Judge Jed Rakoff, Halldor Soehner, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Julius Schoeps, Upper East Side, Prussia, Max Liebermann, Night Café, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Preussen, France, State Paintings Collection, Madame Soler, Museum of Modern Art, Edelgard von Lavergne-Peguilhen, Van Gogh, Munich, Justin K. Thannhauser, FSIA, expropriation exception”, Nazi persecution, Boy Leading a Horse, Restitution, David Toren, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture, Free State of Bavaria, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Pinakothek der Moderne, Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kult, Bundesländer, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Freistaat Bayern, Le Moulin de la Galette, Kurt Martin, München, Pablo Picasso, Federal Republic of Germany, Limbach Commission, Wissenschaft und Kunst

Lauder Editorial on Stolen Art and Museums Fails the Glass House Test

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 30, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial today by Ronald S. Lauder entitled “Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums.” Lauder, the one-time U.S. Ambassador to Austria, current President of the World Jewish Congress, and Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a frequent commentator on questions of stolen art. He was, for example, a reliably-available quote on the Gurlitt affair: on Germany’s steps to deal with it (or criticism for Germany’s action) and the question of stolen art in German museums. But a prominent case several years ago involving a museum with which Lauder himself is involved suggests that perhaps over-simplification is not the answer.

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Topics: Ronald S. Lauder, La bérgère, Norton Simon Museum, Gurlitt affair, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Florence Kesselstatt, Judge Jed Rakoff, Julius Schoeps, Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscat, Germany, University of Oklahoma, Monuments Men, David Findlay Jr. Gallery, MoMA, Adam, Museum of Modern Art, Edelgard von Lavergne-Peguilhen, World Jewish Congress, Boy Leading a Horse, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Wally, Camille Pissarro, Le Moulin de la Galette, U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Pablo Picasso, Museums, New York Times, Eve, New York, Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums

German Museums Join in Demands for More Information About Gurlitt; Links to the Amber Room Theorized; Dix Painting Was Not Unknown

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 8, 2013 at 3:10 AM

Der Spiegel reports today (link in German) about how German museums are joining the chorus of frustration about the lack of information about the Hildebrand and Cornelius Gurlitt collection find. From this perspective, this development is not a surprise. I was speaking to an international law class last night at Sarah Lawrence College, and one of the students asked me what the reaction in Germany would be. My feeling was that sooner rather than later, the German museum community, and likely the federal government, will push for a forward-looking solution. Present-day Germany takes questions about the Holocaust quite seriously, and for this collection to have turned up in Germany is sparking an embarrassment that could lead to more decisive action. The problem right now seems to be that everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move.

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Topics: Jeu de Paume, unbekannte Meisterwerke, February 13 1945, FAZ, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Dresden firebombing, Max Fisher, Cornelius Gurlitt, S. Lane Faison, Linz Führermuseum, Munich Central Collecting Point, Monopol, Wiesbaden Collecting Point, Dresden, HARP, Reinhard Nemetz, Max Liebermann, WWII, Monuments Men, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Naz, Auktionshaus Lempertz, Entartete Kunst, Fine Arts and Archives Program, Nazis, Marc Chagall, Organisation Todt, Paul Klee, Entdeckung verschollener Kunst, beschlagnahmte Bilder, Dresdner Bank, Belvedere, Fritz Todt, Holocaust Art Project, Hamburg Kunstverein, MFAA, Roberts Commission, Angela Merkel, Restitution, Wien, Monuments Fine Arts and Archives, Selbstporträt, World War II, degenerate art, Erben, Raubkunst-Bildern, Portrait of Wally, Washi, Löwenbändiger, Austria, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Washington Principles, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, München, Pablo Picasso, Dr. Herman Voss, Museums, Kristallnacht, Riders on the Beach, Hans Posse, Nazi Raubkunst, Vienna, Alfred Weidinger, Henri Matisse, Self Portrait, Emil Nolde

Focus Turns to Hildebrand Gurlitt’s Postwar Interrogation; Cornelius Gurlitt’s Whereabouts. Belvedere Official Questions Whether Collection Was Really a Secret

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 7, 2013 at 6:06 AM

 

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Topics: Jeu de Paume, unbekannte Meisterwerke, February 13 1945, FAZ, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Dresden firebombing, Max Fisher, Cornelius Gurlitt, S. Lane Faison, Linz Führermuseum, Munich Central Collecting Point, Monopol, Wiesbaden Collecting Point, Dresden, HARP, Reinhard Nemetz, Max Liebermann, WWII, Monuments Men, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Naz, Auktionshaus Lempertz, Entartete Kunst, Fine Arts and Archives Program, Nazis, Marc Chagall, Organisation Todt, Paul Klee, Entdeckung verschollener Kunst, beschlagnahmte Bilder, Dresdner Bank, Belvedere, Fritz Todt, Holocaust Art Project, Hamburg Kunstverein, MFAA, Roberts Commission, Angela Merkel, Restitution, Wien, Monuments Fine Arts and Archives, World War II, degenerate art, Erben, Raubkunst-Bildern, Portrait of Wally, Washi, Löwenbändiger, Austria, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Washington Principles, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, München, Pablo Picasso, Dr. Herman Voss, Kristallnacht, Riders on the Beach, Hans Posse, Nazi Raubkunst, Vienna, Alfred Weidinger, Henri Matisse, Emil Nolde

Merkel Hints at Putting Gurlitt Lists Online, Calls for Special Tribunal Are Made

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 6, 2013 at 4:49 AM

Catherine Hickley reports from Berlin that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel is looking into ways to put lists and/or photographs online concerning the Cornelius Gurlitt seizure of roughly 1,400 paintings with connections to Nazi looting. This followed heavy complaints in the first days of the revelation, that the government had failed to identify what has been found. The biggest question remains why this remained a secret for roughly two years since the discovery. Merkel’s government claimed yesterday it learned of the find only in the last few months.

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Topics: Stephanie Barron, Jeu de Paume, unbekannte Meisterwerke, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Theo Hermsen, S. Lane Faison, Linz Führermuseum, Munich Central Collecting Point, Wiesbaden Collecting Point, HARP, Max Liebermann, WWII, Monuments Men, Alt Aussee, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, Monuments, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Naz, Albrecht Dürer, Auktionshaus Lempertz, Entartete Kunst, Fine Arts and Archives Program, Nazis, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Entdeckung verschollener Kunst, beschlagnahmte Bilder, Holocaust Art Project, Judge Arthur Tompkins, Roberts Commission, Angela Merkel, Restitution, 1939 Galerie Fischer auction, World War II, degenerate art, Capt. Doubinsky, Los Angeles County Musuem of Art, Erben, Raubkunst-Bildern, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Portrait of Wally, Löwenbändiger, Marc Masurovsky, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, München, Pablo Picasso, ARCA, Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservat, Nazi Raubkunst, Henri Matisse, Emil Nolde

Paintings Targeted by the Nazis Found in Munich, Could be Biggest Discovery Since the War. What Now?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 4, 2013 at 6:56 AM

The German magazine Focus broke a story over the weekend that could be the biggest restitution news since Portrait of Wally or Altmann v. Republic of Austria: roughly 1,400 paintings were found in a Munich apartment that may have been seized, looted, or sold bought under duress by the Nazis in the 1930s as part of their drive to purge what they called “degenerate”—but extremely lucrative—art (the Focus coverage is extensive and excellent, though fair warning, in German). The paintings, which were apparently recovered not recently, but in 2011 as part of a customs seizure related to a currency declaration of all things, include works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Liebermann and Albrecht Dürer, from collections traced back to Paul Rosenberg and others who had to abandon their property during the war, all long thought lost to the destruction of the war. They are valued in excess of 1 billion euros.

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Topics: Stephanie Barron, unbekannte Meisterwerke, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, S. Lane Faison, Linz Führermuseum, Max Liebermann, WWII, Monuments Men, Alt Aussee, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Degenerate Art: The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Naz, Albrecht Dürer, Auktionshaus Lempertz, Entartete Kunst, Nazis, Marc Chagall, Paul Klee, Entdeckung verschollener Kunst, beschlagnahmte Bilder, Restitution, 1939 Galerie Fischer auction, World War II, degenerate art, Los Angeles County Musuem of Art, Erben, Raubkunst-Bildern, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Portrait of Wally, Löwenbändiger, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, München, Pablo Picasso, Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservat, Nazi Raubkunst, Henri Matisse, Emil Nolde

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