Art Law Report

Changes in U.S. Law Regarding Cuba Will Affect the Arts

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 19, 2014 at 5:39 AM

This week’s biggest news story (apart from Above the Law’s Awesome Law Blogs of 2014) is the historic reopening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba after more than fifty years. Like a coda to the end of the Cold War, we all found ourselves watching the President of the United States describing how there will once again be a U.S. embassy in Cuba. For those of us who have not been alive as long as diplomatic ties have been severed and the Castro regime has been in place, it was a remarkable sight indeed.

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Topics: Castro, Sudan, Gabriela Rangel, Auctions, U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, President of the United States, OFAC, Above the Law, Congress, Art Basel Miami Beach, North Korea, economic embargo of Cuba, Galleries, Wall Street Journal, President Obama, Art Fairs, State Sponsor of Terrorism List, Cuban peso, the Americas Society, 12 Awesome Law Blogs of 2014, Iran, ArtNet, Syria, Foreign Affairs, Art Law Report, State Department, Cuba, Cold War

Gurlitt Collection Information Finally On View, Provenance Details Still Needed

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on December 1, 2014 at 9:15 AM

As the world adjusts to the announcement last week that the Kunstmuseum Bern has decided to accept Cornelius Gurlitt’s bequest (amid the continuing uncertainty about the validity of the will itself), the most significant development has been the museum’s posting of an inventory of the objects themselves. The museum issued a press release that states:

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Münchner Kunstfund

Kunstmuseum Bern Accepts Appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt's Heir, Agreement with Germany

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 24, 2014 at 1:50 AM

As expected, the press conference today in Berlin held by the Kunstmuseum Bern along with German officials announced that the museum has decided to accept the appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt's heir. As we surmised, the decision was accompanied by an agreement concerning the Nazi-looting suspicions that have followed the one time collection of his father Hildebrand Gurlitt. Hildebrand was one of a select few art dealers authorized during the Nazi regime to sell what the authorities deemed "degenerate art" (see link above for more background).

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Willbald Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Münchner Kunstfund

Gurlitt and Kunstmuseum Bern Press Conference in Berlin Monday November 24, 2014

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM

The federal government of Germany, the Bavarian Ministry of Culture, and the Kunstmuseum Bern announced today that they will hold a joint press conference on Monday November 24, 2014 concerning the bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt to the Swiss museum when he died. It seems hard to imagine that such an event would announce anything other than acceptance by the museum and perhaps some sort of side agreement with Germany and/or Bavaria.

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Topics: Swiss Info, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Monopol, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Willbald Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Kunstmuseum Bern, Münchner Kunstfund

Curiouser and Curiouser: Still More Gurlitt Paintings Found, Nazi-Looting Connections Unknown

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 25, 2014 at 7:25 AM

As if the Cornelius/Hildebrand Gurlitt saga needed any more complications as the world awaits the official decision by the Kunstmuseum Bern about whether to accept the appointment as Cornelius Gurlitt’s heir, even more artwork has apparently turned up. Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and the Wall Street Journal have reported that one picture and several sculptures in the very apartment from which the original trove was seized more than two years ago. Among the sculptures are apparently a Degas and a Rodin. Nothing else seems known about the works or their ownership history, or whether they might be among works that Hildebrand Gurlitt sold or acquired as "degenerate" (side note: the Victoria and Albert Museum's copy of the Degenerate Art Action register is currently on display in New York at the Neue Galerie's exhibition of that title. While it is available online, it is most certainly worth a visit before the show ends).

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Victoria and Albert Museum, Rodin, Cornelius Gurlitt, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Gurlitt Task Force, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Degas, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Gurlitt, Restitution, Bavaria, Neue Galerie, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Degenerate Art Action, degenerate art, Kunstmuseum Bern, www.lostart.de, Nazi art, Raubkunst

Lauder Wall Street Journal Nazi-Looted Art Editorial, Art Law Report Post, and the Response: Some Clarification and Context

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on July 18, 2014 at 5:32 AM

Two weeks ago, we posted an article entitled “Lauder Editorial on Stolen Art Fails the Glass House Test.” The metaphor was not intended to be complicated: it seemed inconsistent, to put it politely, for the honorary board chairman of a museum that has resisted restitution claims by asserting, for example, the statute of limitations and the laches defense, now to say that museums that do just that are “immoral.” Ultimately, we posited that restitution decisions are complicated and hard. It seemed an open question for example as to what, exactly, Ronald S. Lauder’s editorial "Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums" was designed to draw attention. Right on cue, another article appeared calling for the return of the Camille Pissarro in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation museum in Madrid (Rue St. Honoré, effet de pluie) claimed by the heirs of Lilly Cassirer. It is clear that the June 30, 2014 Art Law Report raised more than a few hackles, but we welcome discussion and criticism. An exchange of ideas is what we are here to foster, after all. In the end, however, some clarification shows that there is not really a disagreement here, but rather that the response highlights frustration with civil law countries' treatment of stolen art.

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Topics: Cristoph Bernoulli, Ronald S. Lauder, La bérgère, Norton Simon Museum, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Jr. Museum of Art, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscat, American Alliance of Museums, Fred Jones, University of Oklahoma, David Findlay Jr. Gallery, Judge Colleen McMahon, MoMA, Plundered Art, specific jurisdiction, Madame Soler, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 301, Adam, general jurisdiction, AAM, Museum of Modern Art, World Jewish Congress, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, David Findlay Galleries, N.Y. Civ. P. Law & Rules § 302, Free State of Bavaria, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Switzerland, Pinakothek der Moderne, Leone Meyer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Wally, Freistaat Bayern, Weitzenhoffer, Camille Pissarro, Pablo Picasso, AAMD, Association of Museum Directors, Eve, New York, Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums

Lauder Editorial on Stolen Art and Museums Fails the Glass House Test

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 30, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial today by Ronald S. Lauder entitled “Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums.” Lauder, the one-time U.S. Ambassador to Austria, current President of the World Jewish Congress, and Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a frequent commentator on questions of stolen art. He was, for example, a reliably-available quote on the Gurlitt affair: on Germany’s steps to deal with it (or criticism for Germany’s action) and the question of stolen art in German museums. But a prominent case several years ago involving a museum with which Lauder himself is involved suggests that perhaps over-simplification is not the answer.

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Topics: Ronald S. Lauder, La bérgère, Norton Simon Museum, Gurlitt affair, Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Florence Kesselstatt, Judge Jed Rakoff, Julius Schoeps, Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscat, Germany, University of Oklahoma, Monuments Men, David Findlay Jr. Gallery, MoMA, Adam, Museum of Modern Art, Edelgard von Lavergne-Peguilhen, World Jewish Congress, Boy Leading a Horse, Restitution, Marei Von Saher, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Portrait of Wally, Camille Pissarro, Le Moulin de la Galette, U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Pablo Picasso, Museums, New York Times, Eve, New York, Time to Evict Nazi-Looted Art From Museums

Gurlitt Attorney Speaks of Discussions with Heirs and “Fair and Equitable Solution,” Challenges Earlier Quote Despite Video of Interview

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on January 30, 2014 at 4:44 AM

One of Cornelius Gurlitt’s attorneys, Hannes Hartung, told the Wall Street Journal last week, and was again quoted in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung yesterday, that Gurlitt was open to possible resolutions to claims from heirs to the paintings found in his apartment in 2012. According to Hartung, Gurlitt is already in talks with heirs, and wants a “fair and equitable solution.”

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Topics: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ich geb' nichts freiwillig zurück, FAZ, veschollene Kunst, Focus, Hannes Hartung, Cornelius Gurlitt, Schwabinger Kunstfund. Kunstfund München, Fall Gurlitt, The Art Newspaper, Gurlitt Collection, Max Beckmann, Hildebrand Gurlit, Entartete Kunst, Bar Braun, Özlem Gezer, Beutekunst, LACMA, Gurlitt, David D’Arcy, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, degenerate art, Raubkunst

German Federal Government Wants Gurlitt Collection Made Public, Some May Have Come to U.S., More Art Seized in Stuttgart, Cornelius Gurlitt Spotted in Munich After Bizarre Request for Anonymity

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on November 11, 2013 at 5:55 AM

The fire hose of Gurlitt collection information continues unabated. For stellar reporting keep track of Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal in English, the FAZ and Der Spiegel in German. We’ll continue to track the legal fallout of the facts as the journalists continue to uncover them.

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Topics: Paris Match, Stuttgart, FAZ, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Steffan Seibert, Munich Hoard, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Baden-Württemberg, Bloomberg, Entartete Kunst, Munich, Schwabing, Angela Merkel, Restitution, Der Spiegel, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Münchner Kunstfund

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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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