Art Law: US Supreme Court on Welfenschatz and Sovereign Immunity

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp (S. Ct. 2021) and today, we have Ted Folkman of Letters Blogatory reviewing it: 

This is the case of the Welfenschatz, the Guelph treasure said to have been stolen by the Nazis from its Jewish owners. The claim was that Hermann Göring, one of Hitler’s most powerful ministers, had coerced the Jewish owners of the treasure to sell it for a fraction of its value to the Prussian government in the early 1930s. Continue reading

Art Law: Advisory Commission – New Recommendation, First Default

Yesterday, the Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, also known as the Limbach Commission, has issued a new recommendation in the restitution matter of the heirs of Max Fischer vs.  Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, a museum of the State of Baden-Württemberg. In January 2021, the Advisory Commission had gone public with the first case in its history where a recommendation had not been implemented.

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Art Law: Application of Nama Traditional Leaders Association Fails in Stuttgart Court

The Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg had to deal with an application of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association regarding the return of historic items that once belonged to Hendrik Wittboi. Witbooi (c. 1830 – 1905) was a chief of the Nama or ǀKhowesin people in present-day Namibia German South West Africa (Deutsch Südwestafrika) at the time. He is regarded as one of the national heroes of Namibia, having lead the 1904 fight against German colonial rule.

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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