I recently tackled the public discussion in Germany about whether to rename the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, the foundation that oversees the State Museums of Berlin and some of the most remarkable collections in the world. Readers of the Art Law Report will know this name well, the SPK is the defendant in the lawsuit brought by my clients for the restitution of the Welfenschatz, or Guelphe Treasure, that the Supreme Court heard in 2020. While I've never been shy about criticizing the SPK about its approach in our our case (which is on appeal, briefs here and here), this piece addresses a different question. Namely, what place does the name "Prussia" have in the 21st century? For anyone like me who still thinks about the historical sliding doors of the Grossdeutschelösung and Kleindeutschelösungdebate of the 19th century about how to unite the German-speaking states and duchies, this piece is for you.
Holy Roman Empire,
Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz,
Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation,
C. Montgomery Burns,
Sigismund of Luxembourg,
Augustus II the Strong,
Cousin Had Challenged His Capacity to Make a Will Shortly Before 2014 Death
After a two-year legal battle, the Oberlandesgericht in Munich has upheld the dismissal of Uta Werner’s challenge to the will made by Cornelius Gurlitt in 2014 that designated the Kunstmuseum Bern as his heir, including the bequest of his controversial painting collection. Less than six months after it was revealed in November 2013 that the Bavarian authorities had seized 1,280 objects from his Schwabing home in Munich, Gurlitt wrote a will that designated that his entire collection would go to the Swiss museum. Barring some extraordinary appeal, the bequest will now be final and the collection will go to Switzerland. While lifting considerable uncertainty about the fate of the collection as a whole, this development does not address the lack of clarity about the process by which the objects that are suspected of having been looted by the Nazis will be examined or returned.
Nazi-looted art in Munich,
Free State of Bavaria,
Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB)
A few weeks ago some interesting speculation started circulating about the possibility of a new forgery operation in Germany, which was home to the now-infamous Wolfgang Beltracchi. Beltracchi successfully fooled buyers for years with forged Expressionist and Modernist paintings, going so far as to invent a fictional “Jäger Collection” (including a staged photograph of Beltracchi’s wife purporting to show a painting on the wall of an ancestors home). The most interesting thing about the current story is that it is impossible to tell yet whether there is really a problem; the most detailed efforts to date have been unable to confirm whether Kurt Waldmann, the artist in question, even existed. Many of the indicia of concern are there, but they are hardly conclusive.
“Künstliche Tatsachen / Boundary Objects",