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Recovering looted WWII art - Resources

Recovering nazi-looted World War II art - Resources
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Art looted by Americans, Selling Nazi Militaria: Controversy, Art stolen by Russians

Switzerland`s Bern Art Museum to accept Gurlitt `Nazi art`
Switzerland`s Bern Art Museum has agreed to accept hundreds of artworks bequeathed by German Nazi-era art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt. But a museum spokesman said pieces looted by the Nazis in World War Two would not be permitted in the museum. Mr Gurlitt, the son of Adolf Hitler`s art dealer, had for years hidden works by artists including Picasso and Monet. Around 500 works are expected to remain in Germany until their rightful owners can be identified. Three pieces - by Max Liebermann, Henri Matisse and Carl Spitzweg - will be returned immediately.
(bbc.com)

How a dead man`s change of heart saw $1 billion in Nazi art returned home
Cornelius Gurlitt was an old man with a secret. Much of his art collection, estimated to be worth more than $1 billion, was comprised of paintings the Nazis stole from Jews during the Second World War. The Wall Street Journal reports on the chain of events that led Gurlitt from declaring he would not "freely give anything back" to their rightful owners to voluntarily agreeing to the deed. The intricate tale is built around Gurlitt`s desire to clear his family name, move his art out of Germany, and to see his beloved paintings once again.
(theverge.com)

Victoria and Albert Museum in London to publish an inventory list of the artworks stolen under the Nazis
On Adolf Hitler`s orders, art historian Rolf Hetsch comprised a two-volume list of the artworks the Nazis seized for the "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich in 1937. The list was comprised of more than 16,000 artworks in alphabetical order based on the names of the museums they were taken from. The inventory list also contains the names of the artists as well as information about what happened to the artworks. Thus far this inventory list was only accessible for scientists for their research.
(dw.de)

Dutch museums find 139 likely Nazi-looted artworks
A major investigation into whether art in Dutch museums may have once been Nazi loot has yielded an unexpectedly large result: 139 suspect works, including ones by masters such as Matisse, Klee and Kandinsky. The bombshell announcement by the museums raises the question of why it has taken them nearly 70 years to examine their collections in a systematic way after World War II — and suggests that even more looted art may emerge from other countries that haven`t yet done so.
(timesdispatch.com)

Stalin`s World War II loot should return to Germany, Merkel says
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russia to return art and antiquities looted from eastern Germany in World War II by Josef Stalin`s Soviet Trophy Commission,. Merkel spoke at the opening of an exhibition on the Bronze Age at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. After the war, museums in Soviet-occupied eastern Germany were left with nothing. 2.5 million items were packed up and sent to the Soviet Union. In an act of friendship to communist East Germany in 1958, 300 train cars brought back art treasures including the Pergamon Altar, now in Berlin`s Pergamon Museum. Yet 1 million artworks are still missing, including the Bronze-Age gold treasure of Eberswalde.
(businessweek.com)

Nazi looted art cases remain unsolved mysteries, as standard guidelines are yet to be formed
A prominent Oskar Kokoschka painting stolen by the Nazis is now to be returned to its rightful owners. While provenance research has improved, a set of legal issues make such cases difficult to resolve. The Kokoschka painting is one of many cases of art confiscated by the Nazis from Jewish owners 1933-1945 which have recently resurfaced. The current discussion, 70 years after the end of World War II, revolves around the restitution of the works to their rightful owners. The problem is, however, that even after many legal disputes over the years, a set of standard guidelines have yet to be laid down.
(dw.de)

Holocaust survivor`s family ordered to return looted golden artifact back to Germany
A state appellate court in Brooklyn has ordered the family of a Holocaust survivor to return an ancient gold tablet to a German museum. The decision turns on its head the familiar scenario of Holocaust victims suing to reclaim property extorted from them by the Nazis. But in this case the precious 3,200-year-old Assyrian artifact had been looted, not from the survivor, but from the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, at the close of WWII. It is not clear how the survivor, Riven Flamenbaum, came into possession of the tablet after his liberation from Auschwitz in 1945.
(nytimes.com)

Volkswagen gives 600,000 euros for a project tracking down Russian Art lost in World War II
Volkswagen AG (VOW) is providing funding of 600,000 euros ($794,000) for a German-Russian research project to track down Russian art treasures lost in the Second World War. Russian museums lost hundreds of thousands of artworks and cultural treasures through plunder and destruction by Nazi troops. The project will bring Russian and German historians and art historians together to comb the archives of both countries, as well as of the western allies.
(bloomberg.com)

Records about Nazi looted art available through a single web portal
The Nazis were among the most ruthless art collectors ever to cast a greedy eye on other people`s property. That appetite saw thousands of pieces stolen from their owners 1933-1945 and entire collections raided, scattered and lost. The quest to recover and return them to their rightful owners has been under way for seven decades. Now, thanks to a deal between some of the world`s leading archives and museums, an online catalogue of documents has been created to help families, historians and researchers track down the artworks. Under an agreement signed by organisations like Britain`s National Archives, the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, the US National Archives and Records Administration (Nara) and Germany`s Bundesarchiv, the records will be available through a single web portal (link).
(guardian.co.uk)

Online database lists 20,000 art pieces the Nazis looted from France and Belgium
Holocaust survivors and their descendants can now search an online database detailing (what was seized and from who, restitution status, photos) over 20,000 art pieces looted from Nazi-occupied France and Belgium. The Nazis ransacked hundreds of thousands of artworks from Jews in one of the biggest cultural raids in history. The database is based on digitized 1940-1944 records from The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the "Special Task Force" led by Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg. The ERR was one of the main Nazi agencies plundering cultural valuables in Nazi-occupied countries. [Project website]
(dailymail.co.uk)

43 countries agree on guidelines for returning property looted by the Nazis
Dozens of nations declared that they would try harder to return real estate stolen by the Nazis, opening archives and handling restitution claims faster. 43 countries supported the first set of global guidelines for returning the real estate to its rightful owners or heirs. The nonbinding rules call for more transparency and speed in the processing of restitution claims for property stolen 1933-1945. People claiming lost property should be given free access to all related local, regional and national archives. Before the Holocaust, Jews owned property in Europe that was worth $10-$15 billion at the time.
(foxnews.com)

New British law lets UK museums return works looted by Nazis
Artefacts in national museums found to have been looted by the Nazis can now be returned to their owners, because of "The Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act" - which gives national institutions in England and Scotland the power to return art stolen during the Nazi era. The law enables national museums and galleries to act on the recommendations of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, which resolves claims from people, or their heirs, who lost property during the Nazi era 1933-1945 which is now held in UK national collections.
(bbc.co.uk)

Catalogue of artworks looted by Nazis could help locate and return some of them
A newly discovered catalogue of artworks looted by Nazis compiled for Adolf Hitler could help discover the whereabouts of lost materpieces. The "Hitler Album" contains details of art works looted by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), an organisation created by the Nazis in 1940 to loot works of art. The leather-bound book includes lists and photos of 78 paintings by prominent artists. The fate of many of the works, stolen from France during the Nazi occupation, is still unknown. But the discovery of the album, in Texas, could enable some paintings thought to be missing to be located.
(telegraph.co.uk)

49 countries meet in Prague to review practises about returning nazi-looted art
65 years after the Second World War, experts say thousands of artworks looted by the Nazis still need to be restituted to their rightful owners. Government officials from 49 countries and dozens of non-governmental groups will meet in Prague to review current practises. The task of restituting Nazi-looted works is a huge one. The Nazis set up a bureaucracy devoted to looting and they ransacked 650,000 art and religious objects. Artworks were auctioned off, handed over to national museums or Nazi leaders, or stashed away for a Fuehrer museum Adolf Hitler was planning to build in Linz.
(stuff.co.nz)

Looted Hermann Goering paintings catalogued for the first time
Hermann Goering collected some of the world`s most important pieces of art to decorate the walls of his country retreat near Berlin. Now photos of every painting he had will be published in a book that is expected to become a key research tool for museums, and help reunite the artworks with their owners and their descendants. The project, by Nancy Yeide, head of curatorial records at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, has found that Goering amassed 2,000 looted works of art. The book`s publisher, Robert Edsel, an expert in looted artworks, said the book would be of interest to historians, art experts and ordinary readers.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Germany Posts List of Looted Nazi Art, Antique on net
A Web page run by Germany`s Finance Ministry attempts to find the owners of looted Nazi art by photos and descriptions of paintings and other pieces of art confiscated during the Third Reich. A catalog of 100 art objects looted by the Nazis was posted online by the Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues (BADV). The agency was formed to handle claims for looted art, antique furniture, the restitution of real estate and property seized by the Nazis. Although most legal claims were settled in the post-war years in the West Germany, the origins of the art unearthed in the eastern states has only begun being documented.
(dw-world)

Computer archive used to find stolen art
The Art Loss Register is a small private company whose computer archive lists 180,000 items ranging from sculpture and silver to textiles, books, stamps and vehicles - and many of the great art works stolen or missing around the world. In 2002, an art dealer`s routine search of the archive for a 1922 Picasso, "Woman in White," led to the discovery that it had been looted by the Nazi occupiers of Paris. The register is also a source for those seeking to recover art confiscated by the Nazis. "We`re the only comprehensive searching service in the world for stolen art," said Julian Radcliffe.
(usatoday)

New Handbook Helps Descendents Reclaim Nazi Loot
The Nazis were masters at seizing art from collectors and dealers. Recently many works have been returned, but the path can be tricky. And an important new contribution to that project was revealed in Berlin: a book called "Nazi Looted Art: A Handbook to Art Restitution Worldwide." Over 500 pages long, the tome is filled with case studies of valuable artworks either being taken from their owners by the Nazis, or sold at below-market prices. "There have already been hundreds of pictures returned in recent years. But there are likely hundreds more in the basements of museums in Germany, Austria, the US and elsewhere."
(spiegel)

Nazi loot web site launches - displaying art stolen by the Nazis   (Article no longer available from the original source)
An Internet site displaying art stolen by the Nazis was launched, aimed at reuniting some 100,000 stolen works with their owners. The Swift-Find Looted Art Project displays a vast database of art works that can be consulted (no charge) by auction houses and museums. The site already carries details of 25,000 stolen paintings, sculptures and precious objects stolen by the Nazis and still not returned to their owners. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the Allies sent most of the stolen goods back to their countries of origin. Many unclaimed items were handed to museums.
(cbc)

Austria: 6,292 artworks looted by Nazis may be returned to owners
An Austrian advisory panel handling claims for paintings, sculptures and other items looted by the Nazis during the Second World War has recommended that 6,292 artworks be returned to their original owners, the culture minister said. Only about a dozen of the requests received through March 31 have been rejected. A website would be set up by the end of the year to help owners track down works they claim were confiscated by the Nazis. Austria`s first postwar government also effectively confiscated hundreds of paintings from Jewish owners and their heirs, using a 1923 law preventing the export of artworks.
(bbc)

Online Registry to Help Restore Art Looted by the Nazis
Swift-Find, an online registry of valuables, announced a new online initiative to help victims of the Holocaust and others robbed by the Nazis reclaim stolen valuables. There are still well over 100,000 works of art that were looted by the Nazis unclaimed. At launch, it is one of the largest online databases of Nazi era looted art, with over 20,000 items. It has been estimated that the Nazis systematically looted about 20% of all Western art. There were specific teams in the Gestapo and other Nazi intelligence services tasked with systematically identifying and seizing all major works of art - whether for Hitler`s museum or private Nazi collections.
(PR Newswire)


See also:
Art looted by Americans
Selling Nazi Militaria: Controversy
Art stolen by Russians