As I prepare for a trip to Vienna for next week’s International Bar Association Annual Meeting, there is some topical restitution news, but it is hardly good. The imminent incarceration of Stephan Templ, a journalist and historian, for the omission of another relative from his mother’s application for Holocaust compensation, is as bizarre as it is disheartening. One hopes that a pardon, his last available recourse, will soon be forthcoming.
Topics: Maria Altmann, Reibpartie, Robert Amsterdam, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Der Standard, Stephan Templ, Nazi Looting, Scrubbing Parties, Ringstrasse, Ambassador Manz, Museum of Modern Art, Holocaust, Beethoven Frieze, Lothar Furth, Unser Wien: “Arisierung” auf österreichisch, Heinz Fischer, Restitution, Elisabeth Kretschmer, National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victi, Egon Schiele, World War II, Eva Blimlinger, Portrait of Wally, Austria, The Missing Image, Natural History Museum, Ruth Beckermann, Gustav Klimt, Albertinaplatz, Our Vienna: “Aryanization” Austrian Style, Kurt Hankiewicz, Vienna, Anschluss, Baldur von Schirach, Limbach Commission, International Bar Association, Tina Walzer
The release last week of The Woman in Gold, the feature film adaptation of The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds as Maria Altmann and her attorney E. Randol Schoenberg, respectively, as well as Tatiana Maslany as the younger Altmann and Daniel Brühl as Austrian journalist Hubertus Czernin, is an important opportunity to reflect on the legal importance of the case. Even today, the case provides lessons about the way some victims are still treated, and how one individual can make sure the past is never forgotten. The looting of Jewish art collections was a concerted effort whose prominence should never be forgotten. And perhaps even more, it robs those who did survive of the dignity of remembering their family experiences. Consider: the next time you gather with your extended family, look around the room. Pick something that you’re accustomed to seeing when the family meets. Now, imagine it had been stolen or surrendered under duress, and was hanging on the wall of a national collection that denied it had been taken. How would you feel? This is the dilemma faced by many claimants, and it is precisely why Altmann matters so much.
Topics: Maria Altmann, The Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, Guelph Treasure, The Woman in Gold, Daniel Brühl, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Academy of Fine Arts, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Hitler, Tatiana Maslany, Anne Marie O’Connor, Supreme Court, A Few Good Men, Belvedere, E. Randol Schoenberg, World Jewish Congress, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Ryan Reynolds, FSIA, expropriation exception”, Restitution, Neue Galerie, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Switzerland, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, Helen Mirren, Museums, Fritz Altmann, Gustav Klimt, Vienna, Welfenschatz, Hubertus Czernin, Ronald Lauder, Austrian National Gallery
It has been almost two weeks since I filed my clients’ claims for restitution of the Guelph Treasure (Welfenschatz).
Topics: Maria Altmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, National Socialists, Third Reich, artdaily.org, Reuters, United States Supreme Court, Guelph Treasure, Gestapo, Haaretz, Deutschlandradio. Deutsche Presse Agentur, Robin Young, the Guardian, The Art Newspaper, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, The Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Welle, Santa Fe, KRQE News 13, the Observer, Markus Stoetzel, Die Erle, Mel Urbach, Nazis, Advisory Commission, 3SAT, ZDF, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Washington DC, Hermann Goering, Private Wealth, Restitution, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Here & Now, Gerald Stiebel, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, flight tax, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Adolf Hitler, United States District Court, The New York Times, Federal Republic of Germany, BBC News Europe, Alan Phillip, Welfenschatz, NPR, PrivateArtInvestor, ArtNet news
I filed yesterday a new civil action against the Federal Republic of Germany and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (the SPK, which is responsible the administration of the Berlin museums, among other things) in the United States District Court in Washington, DC. You can read the Complaint here. The lawsuit seeks the immediate restitution to my clients of the collection held by the SPK known as the Welfenschatz, or as it is referred to in English, the Guelph Treasure. My clients Gerald Stiebel and Alan Phillip are the blood relatives and successors to the consortium of Jewish art dealers who were threatened and forced by the National Socialist government into selling the Welfenschatz in 1935.
Topics: Maria Altmann, National Socialists, Third Reich, Philipp v. Federal Republic of Germany et al. 15-c, United States Supreme Court, Guelph Treasure, Gestapo, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, Nazis, Advisory Commission, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Washington DC, Hermann Goering, Restitution, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Gerald Stiebel, World War II, flight tax, Adolf Hitler, United States District Court, Federal Republic of Germany, Alan Phillip, Welfenschatz
Topics: Maria Altmann, National Socialists, Third Reich, Philipp v. Federal Republic of Germany et al. 15-c, United States Supreme Court, Guelph Treasure, Gestapo, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Markus Stoetzel, Mel Urbach, Nazis, Advisory Commission, Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Washington DC, Hermann Goering, Restitution, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Gerald Stiebel, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, flight tax, Adolf Hitler, United States District Court, Federal Republic of Germany, Alan Phillip, Welfenschatz
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
A recent loan to the National Gallery in London has grabbed headlines discussing the history of the painting, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, by Gustav Klimt, surrounding World War II and the persecution of Jews in Austria. Somewhat puzzlingly, the coverage has downplayed the fact that that very painting was already the subjective of an exhaustive proceeding in Austria that denied restitution, a decision reviewed and affirmed by the Austrian Supreme Court (though, apparently, also the subject of more recent requests for reconsideration). Should a claim for restitution or seizure be filed while the painting is outside Austria, in the UK or the US, it could have a troubling effect on respect for final judgments, as well as unintended consequences for restitution claimants who may find their judgments collaterally attacked elsewhere. As difficult as it may seem, the painting cannot be disturbed without putting a great deal more at risk.
Topics: Maria Altmann, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Jonathan Jones, National Gallery London, the Guardian, Vita Künstler, Dr. Erich Führer, Beethoven Frieze, Belvedere, the United Nations Convention on the Recognition a, Jugendstil, Portrait of Amalie Zuckerkandl, Hermine Müller-Hofmann, Amalie Zuckerkandl, Restitution, Neue Galerie, World War II, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Facing the Modern: The Portrait in Vienna in 1900, Kokoschka, Secession, Secession Museum, Austria, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, Fin de siècle, Gustav Klimt, Vienna, Anschluss, UNCITRAL
A new piece at the Art Newspaper reflects on the importance of the Portrait of Wally case. Wally was seized in 1998 by customs officials on the theory that it was stolen property when imported into the U.S. The painting sat in a warehouse for 12 years, until a settlement returned the painting to Vienna in 2010 and a payment to Lea Bondi's heirs was made. I recall well the citywide celebrations in the Austrian capital when the painting returned; banners on lampposts proclaimed Bildnis Wally kehrt zurück—Portrait of Wally returns!
Topics: Maria Altmann, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, The Art Newspaper, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, FSIA, Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Portrait of Wally, S.B. 2212, Immunity from Seizure Act, Customs, Gustav Klimt, Vienna