Art Law: The Gurlitt Paintings – A Treasure Trove of Looted Art

Picasso, Chagall, Marc, Nolde, Spitzweg, Renoir, Macke, Courbet, Beckmann, Kandinsky, Kokoschka, Matisse, Liebermann and Dix – the names of the artists, and the sheer amount of art seized by German authorities in Munich in 2012 is making headlines around the world, since news magazine FOCUS broke the news on Sunday. Almost 1,500 paintings were seized, as part of a customs and tax investigation by German authorities, in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt. It is both temping and somewhat dangerous to come up with a legal assessment at this point in time, where many facts are not known. The Augsburg’s public prosecutor’s office (Staatsanwaltschaft Augsburg) held a press conference this morning and press reports are coming through as this post is written (here’s the link to the live blog from that press conference on FOCUS). Continue reading

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Law and Art – Restitution Claims and Restitution in the Absence of Claims

“Law and Art” was the overall theme for this year’s Anwaltstag, held in München last week. One of the sessions was devoted to “Restitution in the Absence of Claims – Finding Fair Solutions Beyond the Law” (Restitution ohne Anspruch – gerechte Lösungen jenseits des Rechts). Here’s a link to a short video summarizing the discussion. While solutions beyond the law may be difficult to find, the prospects for law-based restitution claims appear to have improved recently, both legally and factually. Continue reading

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