The Bavarian legislative proposal dealing with art restitution rlaims will be on the agenda of the Upper Chamber (Bundesrat) of the German parliament this Friday. Ahead of the session, Thomas Kutschaty, the Minister of Justice for North Rhine Westphalia went on the record in an interview yesterday with news magazine FOCUS, stating that the Bavarian would “certainly not be approved” in parliament in its current form. Kutschaty on the one hand voiced constitutional concerns and on the other hand criticized the Bavarian approach on the burden of proof. It would be almost impossible, he said, of the heirs of Nazi victims, to provide evidence as to the ownership of lost art. Like many critics, however, he has – so far, at least – remained silent on the alternatives he would propose.
Today’s Frankfurter Allgemeine reports on a restitution claim brought by the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in Federal Court in New York against Bavaria.* The painting in dispute is Picasso’s Madame Soler. Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy sold it, in 1934, to art dealer Justin Thannhauser. It was from Thannhauser that the Bavarian State Painting Collection (Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen) acquired Madame Soler in 1964. But was that acquisition a legitimate transaction? Continue reading