Towards a Restatement of Restitution Rules: Research into the International Practice of Nazi-looted Art Restitution

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FPKProfessor Matthias Weller, University of Bonn,  (who has contributed to this blog in the past) hat issued the following press release about an exiting new project, which I would like to share with you:

“In April 2019, research began at the University of Bonn on international practice in the restitution of artworks stolen under the Nazi regime. Head of the research project is Prof. Dr. Matthias Weller, who holds the “Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach professorship for civil law, art and cultural property law”.

The project aims to provide a comprehensive, comparative analysis of international practice in the restitution of Nazi-looted art. It aims to establish a generalized set of rules on how decisions are made based on considerations of fairness and justice.

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Gurlitt Estate: Berne Museum Reaches Agreement on Cézanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire

la-montagne-sainte-victoireIn November 2013, the Gurlitt saga propelled the complex historical and legal issues around looted art into the spotlight. It created, perhaps for the first time, an awareness for the importance of provenance research within the wider public. However, with Cornelius Gurlitt entering into an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Bavaria in April 2014 and his death shortly thereafter, on 6 May 2014,  the matter has disappeared from the headlines. The opening of the exhibitions in Bonn and Berne in autumn last year brought the topic back at least to the art pages. Behind the scenes, the provenance research into the artwork in the good estate continues, but rarely gets publicity. Yesterday was an exception: Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that the Berne Museum of Fine Arts and the estate of Paul Cézanne had reached an agreement on Cézanne’s 1897 painting “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire”, arguably the commercially most valuable painting in the Gurlit collection. Continue reading

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Art Law: Fifteen Years of Limbach Commission – Taking Stock, and Looking Ahead, Bonn, 4 July 2018

Uni Bonn LogoThe “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”, better known as Limbach Commission after its first chair women, Jutta Limbach, was formed in 2003. We have covered various aspects of the Limbach Commission’s work, for example here and here. Jutta Limbach, the former president of the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) passed away in September 2016. Her successor as the chairman of the advisory commission is Hans-Jürgen Papier, also a former judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and Jutta Limbach’s successor as the president of the court upon her retirement from judicial office in 2002.

Hans-Jürgen Papier will speak at the inaugural event of the Bonn Round Table on Art & Cultural Heritage Law (Bonner Gesprächskreis Kunst- und Kulturgutschutzrecht) on 4 July 2018 (see here for details). Matthias Weller (see here for his guest post on the Gurlitt case) has initiated the round table. He has been appointed, effective this summer term, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Professor for Art & Cultural Heritage Law at Bonn University. This chair was created as part of Bonn University’s initiative that saw the creation of two professorships dedicated to provenance research – a first at a German University, which we covered here earlier. I hope to be able to attend, and report on, the event.

 

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Art Law: Frankfurt Court Allows Limitation Defence in Looted Art Case

WP_Max_Pechstein_2When the news about the Munich art find in Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment broke, a legal issue that so far had been of interest only to a small community of lawyers or legal scholars gained prominence: the application of the statute of limitation to restitution claims for looted art. As the law stood, restitution claims against Gurlitt would, in all likelihood, have become time-barred. When the Gurlitt case made headlines worldwide, all of a sudden, politicians paid attention to that rather esoteric question. The newly appointed Bavarian Minister of Justice even initiated legislation to deal with the issue. But the topic disappeared from the political stage as quickly as it had made its appearance when it became clear that Cornelius Gurlitt was not going to invoke the limitation defence. The Bavarian law-making initiative fell into oblivion. Continue reading

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