Art Law Report

Stephan Templ, Chronicler of Nazi Looting in Vienna, Set to Begin Jail Term Over Supposed Omission in His Mother’s Holocaust Restitution Claim

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on September 29, 2015 at 10:03 AM

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.

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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

REMINDER: Art Crime and Cultural Heritage: Fakes, Forgeries, and Looted and Stolen Art at NYU June 4-6

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 27, 2015 at 5:41 AM

I am looking forward to next week’s Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. The program is as follows, and promises to be a fascinating event.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., On the Shore of the Seine, Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Paysage Bords de Seine, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Symposium at NYU June 4-6, 2015

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 1, 2015 at 6:49 AM

I am pleased to be taking part in the upcoming Art Crime and Cultural Heritage symposium at NYU next month. I will be on a panel discussing the Gurlitt case moderated by Mel Urbach, along with Chris Marinello and Wesley Fisher. I’m very much looking forward to learning from my co-panelists and the other participants. Registration is available here.

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Topics: University of Kansas, Megan Fontanella, Jordan Arnold, Klein & Solomon LLP, International Foundation for Art Research, Jo Backer Laird, Amy Adler, Sandra Cobden, Alfred Flechtheim, Betty Little, NYU School of Law, Shawnee State University, Guggenheim Museum, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Amr Al Azm, Christopher Robinson, Marla Diaz, ARIS Title Insurance Corporation, Judd Grossman, John Cahill, Alice Farren-Bradley, Inc., Boston University, Art Recovery Group, David Goldstein, Eleonora Nagy, Schiele, Jane C. H. Jacob, James Martin, Pryor Cashman LLP, Karl Geercken, Judith Pearson, Doreen Bolger, Kevin Ray, Museum of Modern Art, Peter Herdrich, Mel Urbach, ARIS, Chris Marinello, III, Pierre Ciric, Arader Galleries, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, William L Charron, Christie's Inc., Spencer Tomkins, W. Graham Arader, K2 Intelligence, MaryKate Cleary, Laurie Rush, Modern Sculpture Conservation LLC, Ciric Law Firm PLLC; Holocaust Art Restitution Pro, lston & Bird LLP, James Butterwick, Auctionata, Restitution, Colleen St Onge, Jonathan Illari, President’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee, Asian Art Research & Appraisals, Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Events, Simon Hornby, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, Art Dealers Association of America Jane Levine, Jacob Fine Art, Wesley Fisher, Harry Ettlinger, Herrick Feinstein LLP, Baltimore Museum of Art, Portrait of Wally, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Nicholas O'Donnell, National Stolen Art File and Art Crime Team, Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germa, Francis O'Connor, IFAR, Sotheby's, Bonhams, The Heritas Group, Ken Perenyi, Patricia J. Graham, Emily Kempin Professor of Law, Whitney Museum of American Art, Meridith Savona, Tim Carpenter, Vienna, Megan Noh, Butterwick Gallery LLC, Museum Security Network, Leopold Museum, Crozier Fine Arts Inc., Art Law Report, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, Sharon Flescher, Michael Danti, Holly Keris

Immunity from Seizure in Focus—Loans from Cuba for Exhibitions on Hold

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 5, 2015 at 6:39 AM

A recent story in The Art Newspaper spotlights a number of lingering issues related to stolen art, the power of U.S. courts to seize property to satisfy liability, and the role of the Immunity from Seizure Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2459 (IFSA). As we discussed recently, the prospect of a material change in U.S.-Cuba relations, which as a commercial matter haven’t existed for more than 50 years, has broad implications for the art market. Just as importantly, there are many, many unanswered questions about the fate of property in Cuba that changed hands or was nationalized as part of the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s and onward. Simply put, there are thousands of claims worth billions of dollars for all sorts of property that exiles left behind or had taken from them. While it is still a long way off, one impact of potentially normalized relations is the prospect of sorting through those claims.

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Topics: Legislation, Malevich, Atlanta, Boston College Law School, The Art Newspaper, Immunity from Seizure, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Wifredo Lam: Imagining New Worlds, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, City of Amsterdam, High Museum, McMullen Museum at Boston College, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Portrait of Wally, Immunity from Seizure Act, Museums, Chabad, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity, State Department, Cuba

Development May be Coming Soon In Klimt Beethoven Frieze Case

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 4, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Der Standard in Austria reported this week that a recommendation is expected on Friday in the claim by the heirs of Erich Lederer to the famous Klimt Beethoven Frieze in the Secession Museum in Vienna. The issue in this case is not a Nazi-era theft per se, but the effect of Austria’s post-war restitution law, which returned ownership to the Lederer family (it was looted from Erich Lederer under the Nazi) but forbade export, leading to a sale. The Lederer family has argued that that amounts to a second taking. As I made no secret last week with regard to Germany’s intended National Cultural Property Designation for the Welfenschatz that my clients have sued to recover, this kind of export prohibition is now recognized for what it is: an effort to hinder restitution. The same kind of claim was made against the Leopold Museum in Vienna for Portrait of Wally, namely, the allegation that the post-war sale was not valid under the circumstances because of the export prohibition. That case settled in 2010, the painting remains in Vienna.

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Topics: BGBl. I Nr. 181/1998 i.d.F. BGBl. I Nr. 117/2009, Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, Leopold Museum, Limbach Commission, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

First Ripples in Greece from Parthenon Marble Loan to Russia

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 8, 2015 at 6:10 AM

Last month it was revealed that the British Museum had loaned a sculpture from the Parthenon, a/k/a Elgin, Marbles to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Reaction ranged from puzzlement to fury. Lee Rosenbaum pondered whether the loan was in fact a trial balloon to prepare for litigation, specifically, to rebut Greece’s claim that the sculptures are a single unified work that should be returned with an argument that the collection of individual objects is more complicated. My reaction really boiled down to the “law” of unintended consequences: once the UK put any of the objects outside its territorial control—let alone in Russia, which has shown little interest in the niceties of international loans and restitution—the British Museum may find itself in a Portrait of Wally situation. 

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Topics: cultural property, Defining Beauty: the Body in ancient Greek Art, Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens, The Art Newspaper, Lee Rosenbaum, Elgin Marbles, Parthenon Marbles, Restitution, British Museum, Events, State Hermitage Museum, Portrait of Wally, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Litigation

Parthenon Sculpture Loan to Russia: Legal and Diplomatic Fallout Could be Far-Reaching

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 9, 2014 at 6:55 AM

The British Museum has announced that it has loaned to Russia one of the sculptures from the Parthenon that widely known as the “Elgin Marbles” after Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin who oversaw their removal from then-Ottoman occupied Greece in 1811-12. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is the recipient of the loan, specifically, the sculpture of the river god Ilissos from the west pediment of the Parthenon.

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Topics: cultural property, Pandora’s box, the 7th Earl of Elgin, Temple of Zeus at Olympia, George Clooney, Russia, Thomas Bruce, Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, Elgin Marbles, river god Ilissos, Museum of Modern Art, Greece, The British Museum, Restitution, Pausanias, Parthenon Sculpture, Portrait of Wally, Austria, The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Ottoman Empire, Museums, Attica, New York

Austria Restitution Advisory Commission Defers Klimt Beethoven Frieze Decision, No Reasons Given

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 4, 2014 at 10:40 AM

There was a curious non-development today in Austria concerning the dispute over Gustav Klimt’s famed “Beethoven Frieze” located in the Secession Building in Vienna. At issue is whether a post-war sale by Jewish survivors to Austria of a famous painting that the law of the time did not allow to be exported can be considered a sale under duress and justify restitution.

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Topics: Erich Lederer, London, sales under duress, Nazi-looted art, Beethoven Frieze, Germany’s Limbach Commission, Jugendstil, Restitution, Austrian Cultural Ministry, World War II, Leopold Collection, Switzerland, Gesamtkunstwerk, Secession Building, Der Beirat gemäß § 3 des Bundesgesetzes über die R, Portrait of Wally, Austria, 14th Secession Exhibition, Museums, Wiener Secessionsgebäude, Zürich, Gustav Klimt, (Kunstrückgabegesetz), Vienna, Anschluss, Dr. Rudolf Leopold, New York, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act Reintroduced in House of Representatives, Would Ban Use of Exhibition Loan as Basis for Federal Court Jurisdiction

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 31, 2014 at 4:04 AM

Steve Chabot (R-OH) has reintroduced the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act (H.R. 4292), after a previous attempt to amend the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act with regard to the loan of cultural objects failed to become law in 2012. The text of the March 25, 2014 bill is identical to the version that passed in the House in 2012. Its co-sponsors are John Conyers (D-MI) and Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and it has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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Topics: Bob Goodlatte, Cornelius Gurlitt, Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, Girolamo Romano, Gurlitt Collection, 22 U.S.C. § 2459, Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue, 517 F.Supp.2d 322, FSIA, Restitution, David Toren, 19 U.S.C. § 1595a, Steve Chabot, Orrin Hatch, House Judiciary Committee, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(2), 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3), Senate Bill 2212, World War II, IFSA, Foreign Sovereign Immunities, Altmann v. Republic of Austria, Portrait of Wally, John Conyers, Immunity from Seizure Act, Dianne Feinstein Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Federal Republic of Germany, 28 U.S.C. § 1605, H.R. 4292, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity

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

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About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities. It is authored by Nicholas M. O'Donnell, partner in our Art & Museum Law Practice.

The material on this site is for general information only and is not legal advice. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage which may result from reliance on it. Always consult a qualified lawyer about a specific legal problem.

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