(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
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: Guelph Treasure, laches, Cornelius Gurlitt, Germany, Nazi-looted art, res judicata, Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, Holocaust, Magdeburg, Fritz Grünbaum, NS Raubkunst, Bavaria, Egon Schiele, Mathilde Lukacs, Task Force, New York Times, National Gallery, A Tragic Fate, German Lost Art Foundation, Kieslinger, Woman in a Black Pinafore, Woman Hiding her Face, Charles E. Ramos, Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (Torso)
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):
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
Just days after attorneys for Cornelius Gurlitt floated the idea of discussions with survivors and heirs for a possible resolution to the questions about the artworks found in his apartment two years ago that are suspected of having been stolen or sold under duress during the Nazi era (and after the prosecutor was ordered to make a full list available to journalists), the prosecutor in charge of the investigation categorically rejected the possibility of any deal with Gurlitt.
Topics: Erhard Göpel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, FAZ, Focus, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Augsburg, Amsterdam, Willi Korte, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Marvin Fishman, Reinhard Nemetz, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Fall Gurlitt, The Art Newspaper, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Karl Buchholz, Robert Looker, Entartete Kunst, Bar Braun, Beutekunst, Schwabing, Magdeburg, LACMA, Ersessene Kunst, Harvard, Gurlitt, Bavaria, Busch-Reisinger, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, degenerate art, the Central Collecting Point, Augsburger Staatsanwalt, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Sotheby's, Roman Norbert Ketterer, Raubkunst, Verjährung, Mayen Beckmann, National Gallery Berlin, verschollene Kunst, De-Nazification, Selbstbildnis, Self Portrait
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.
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
I’ve just returned from my presentation in Heidelberg at the Hochschule für Jüdische Studien in Heidelberg at the conference Ersessene Kunst—Der Fall Gurlitt; Appropriated Art—The Gurlitt Case. The presentations were, without exception, outstanding. They ranged from rarely-told case stories, to sharp insights of some of the overarching principles that guide the the Gurlitt case and similar events. As the discussions made clear, this case will not be easily resolved. That in turn makes recent reports that Cornelius Gurlitt has indicated a willingess to discuss the art's return all the more significant.
Topics: Maria Altmann, Leopold Reidemester, Ministerin für Justiz und Kultur, Stuttgart, Das Alte Schauspielhaus, Cologne, Irina Alter, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, veschollene Kunst, Focus, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Aschbach Castle, Mussolini, Wiedergutmachung, Annette Weber, Monte Cassino, Cornelius Gurlitt, Corinna Budras, S. Lane Faison, Breslau, Universität Heidelberg, Augsburg, Aryanization, Anat Feinberg, Willi Korte, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Monuments Man, Jud Süss, Wrocław, Dresden, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Silesia, Fall Gurlitt, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Köln, Nazi-looted art, Henry Keazor, Gurlitt Collection, Appropriated Art the Gurlitt Case, Schloss Aschbach, Die Welt, Kurpfälzische Museum Heidelberg, Hochschule für Judische Studien Heidelberg, Karl Haberstock, Eberhard Karls-Universität Tübingen, Emily Löffler, CSU, Williams College, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Universität Zürich, Arisierung, Lehrstuhl für Römisches Recht und Privatrecht, Württemberg, Schlesien, Nürnberger Institut, Hamburg, Otto Förster, Rückgabe, Beutekunst, 'Stürmer-Bibliothek', Magdeburg, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, Ersessene Kunst, Katja Terlau, Art Loss Recovery Unit, Jim Tobias, Hermitage, Gurlitt, Bavaria, Johannes Heil, Wien, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Lucas Elmenhorst, Events, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Nürnberg, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, Looted Art, „Sturmer-Library“, degenerate art, Seminar für Neuere Geschichte, Wolfgang Ernst, Justizminister, Göring, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst, Nicholas M. O'Donnell, Frieder Hepp, Verjährung, Vienna, Claudius Krausharr, Münchner Kunstfund, Zwickau, Kajetan Mühlmann, New York, Werner Haftmann, FAZ Frankfurt, Felicitas Heiman-Jellinek
Die Welt reports today that a scheduled cabinet meeting of the government of Bavaria includes discussion of a draft revision to the state’s statute of limitations. Justice Minister Winfried Bausback (CSU) has apparently stated his desire to ensure that claimants like those heirs to owners of works found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment will not be barred by the statute of limitations, following through on statements he made last year after being selected. There has been lively discussion of whether such claims would be time barred, but this revision would presumably be intended to answer the question broadly. It could signal the beginning of legislative steps to address the situation. The previous Justice and Culture Minister Beate Merk had come under heavy criticism, but a new minister may have room to make some changes. And, in a parliamentary system, the consensus of the ruling government is more significant in anticipating the passage of legislation.
Topics: Ministerin für Justiz und Kultur, Legal Tribune, veschollene Kunst, Beate Merk, Cornelius Gurlitt, Augsburg, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Die Welt, Lorenz Kähler, CSU, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, Beutekunst, Magdeburg, Gurlitt, Bavaria, degenerate art, Freistaat Bayern, Justizminister, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst, Verjährung, Winfried Bausback
The coordination office in Magdeburg continues to post details about works of art seized from Cornelius Gurlitt in Schwabing, with a total of 327 works now available for viewing. There has been almost no discussion yet, however, of what process the government will employ to allow claimants to make their case. Those in the United States have options discussed further below.
Topics: veschollene Kunst, Schwabinger Kunstfund Cornelius Gurlitt, Strafprozessordnung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, EBS Dispute Resolution Center, Munich Hoard, IFKUR, Verjährungsfrist, Peter Bert, Germany, Matthias Weller, prescriptive ownership, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Baden-Württemberg, Entartete Kunst, Nazis, Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, Munich, Schwabing, Magdeburg, FSIA, Dispute Resolution in Germany, Bavaria, Looted Art, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, deutches Recht, degenerate art, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, www.lostart.de, stop, Raubkunst, German Civil Code § 221, Sec. 108 German Code of Criminal Procedure, Kunstfund München, Münchner Kunstfund
The German government has released an initial list of twenty five works among the collection seized from the Munich (Schwabing) apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the most significant discovery of possibly looted art since the end of World War II. The list is posted at www.lostart.de, a hitherto little-known website of the Coordination Point for Cultural Losses (Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste ) in Magdeburg, which administers claims for cultural losses against the German state. The website has been overwhelmed with traffic (I have yet to load the page successfully), sparking fresh criticism of the government’s handling of the issue, but giving credit where due, the Merkel government has moved swiftly to begin these disclosures. As we predicted, the national government simply could not allow this question to fester and be stonewalled; earlier this week foreign minister Guido Westerwelle noted the risk that delay posed to “trust that we have built over many decades” after World War II. The question now will be whether it continues in a comprehensive way until the full list is released.
Topics: Thinking Woman, Playing Piano, Carl Spitzweg, The Master Exploder Hantsch, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Honoré Daumier, Christoph Voll, Dompteuse, Hans Christoph, Girl at Table, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Guido Westerwelle, Max Liebermann, Antonio Canaletto, Eugène Delacroix, Tram, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Allegory/Allegorical Scene, View of the Seine Valley, Moorish Conversation on a Terrace, Otto Dix, Erich Fraass, Die Koordinierungsstelle für Kulturgutverluste, Wilhelm Lachnit, Entartete Kunst, Couple, Marc Chagall, Study of a Woman Nude Standing Arms Raised Hands C, Auguste Rodin, Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair, Child at Table, Magdeburg, Bonaventura Genelli, Patricia Cohen, Restitution, Fritz Maskos, Veiled Woman, Male Portrait, Female nude, Der Spiegel, World War II, degenerate art, Mother and Child, Couple in a Landscape, Ludwig Godenschweg, Théodore Rousseau, www.lostart.de, Otto Griebel, New York Times, Coordination Point for Cultural Losses, Bernhard Kretschmar, Riders on the Beach, Monk, S.A Giustina in Prà della Vale, Kunstfund München, Male Nude, Henri Matisse, Conrad Felixmüller, Woman in the Theater Box, Man and Woman in the Window