The Month in Retrospect: What Else Happened in April 2021

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Some Back and Forth on Brexit and Lugano

On 8 April 2021, I covered the first anniversay of the UK’s application to join the Lugano Convention, and took a fairly pessimistic view as to the prospects of the UK becoming a member state. So I was quite surprised to see a headline in the Financial Times on 12 April 2021 that claimed: “UK set to secure Brussels’ backing for joining legal pact“. The FT’s sources apparently got it wrong, however, and a couple of hours later the FT had to retract its report: “Brussels opposes UK bid to join legal pact, splitting EU states – European Commission says Britain should not be allowed to rejoin Lugano convention.” Other sources such as  Sueddeutsche Zeitung confirm that there had been no change in the EU Commission’s policy – there is no prospect of the UK joining Lugano any time soon. Continue reading

Art Law: New Recommendation of the Advisory Commission in Grawi vs. Düsseldorf

On 26 March 2021, the Advisory Commission published its recommendation regarding the restitution claim brought by the heirs of Kurt and Else Grawi against Düsseldorf. As noted earlier, the Advisory Commission appears to be on track for a new record: It started the year with two recommendations regarding  Max Fischer v. Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, and Heinrich Rieger v. Stadt Köln within a couple of days, and now issued its third decision in 2021. To put this into perspective: From its inception in 2005 until 2020, the Advisory Commission had issued a total of 18 recommendations. With one exception, it never issued more than two recommendations in one year, and never more than three.

In its most recent decisions, the Advisory Commission recommends that the City of Düsseldorf returns the  Franz Marc painting “Füchse” to the heirs of Kurt and Else Grawi. The recommendation was not made unanimously. It was passed by a majority, with six members voting in favour, and three against the recommendation. Continue reading

Art Law: New Recommendation of the Advisory Commission in Rieger v. City of Cologne

From its beginning in 2005 until 2020, the Advisory Commission has issued a total of 18 recommendations, and with one exception, it has never issued more that two recommendations in one year – in 2016, three recommendations were handed down. Given its start into 2021, the Advisory Commission might be on track for a new record. It  started with two recommendations within a couple of days: On 2 February 2021, the Advisory Commission published its decision in Max Fischer v. Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, followed by a second recommendation in Heinrich Rieger v. Stadt Köln on 8 February 2021. Continue reading

Art Law: Restitution of Looted Art and the Reform of Private Foundation Law

The restitution case of Fe­lix Hil­des­hei­mer’s heirs against the Ha­ge­mann Foundation made news recently: On 18 January 2021, the Advisory Commission (Limbach Commission) issued a press release that for the first time in its history, a recommendation it had made had not been implemented. The Hildesheimer case also highlighted an argument that the law on private foundations might be an impediment to restitution.  Continue reading