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

In today’s Legal Tribune Online, I have published a German language piece which adresses the limitation issues in more (technical) detail. Interestingly, one of the few cases that ever dealt with these limitation issues, not only in the context of looted art, under German law was an English High Court case: City of Gotha  and Federal Republic of Germany v. Sotheby’s and Cobert Finance S.A. of 1998. Continue reading

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