(Germany’s highest court issued a much-anticipated ruling on a challenge by a collector to the listing of his painting in the so-called Lost Art database in Magdeburg, Germany. The Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) ruled that the listing will not be deleted where “based on true facts.” The ruling underscores the informative, rather than legal, nature of the database, which describes itself as documenting “cultural property that was either demonstrably seized from their owners between 1933 and 1945 as a result of Nazi persecution, or for which such a seizure cannot be ruled out.” Insofar as the case just decided involves a well-known victim of Nazi-persecution, the clarification is a welcome and important one. As always in this area, however, the hard cases are harder. The case stopped short of resolving more nuanced cases, or addressing what recourse a collector might have in situations where a listing effectively makes a painting impossible to sell. Perhaps the best course would be to take heed of the way the court decided this case: the database is a critical tool of information, but a less useful one when it comes to sorting out legal rights.
Topics: Lost Art Database, Germany, Bundesgerichtshof, Van Gogh, Magdeburg, Nazi persecution, BGH, IFAR, Art Loss Register, A Tragic Fate, Girl from the Sabine Mountains, Francis Xavier Winterhalter, Vue de l'asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy, Elizabeth Taylor, German Lost Art Foundation, Calabrian Coast, Kalabrische Küste, Concordia University, Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, ALR, Düsseldorf, Bettina Brückner
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).
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