Showing posts with label art restitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art restitution. Show all posts

February 4, 2017

Conference - From Refugees to Restitution: The History of Nazi Looted Art in the UK in Transnational Perspective.


Location: 
University of Cambridge
Newnham College - Cambridge Lucia Windsor Room
Cambridge, UK 

Dates:  
March 23-24, 2017 

Cost: 35£ (25£ for students)
Attendees are asked to register by 1 March 2017 by emailing the conference organizers 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Opening remarks

Panel I. A Paradigm Shift? From Legal to Moral Solutions in Restitution Practice

Commentator: Victoria Louise Steinwachs (Sotheby’s London)

– Debbie De Girolamo (Queen Mary, University of London), ‘Fair & Just Solutions – A Moniker for Moral Solutions?’

 – Tabitha I. Oost (University of Amsterdam), ‘Restitution policies of Nazi- looted art in The Netherlands and the UK. A change from a legal to a moral paradigm?’

 – Evelien Campfens (Leiden University), ‘Bridging the gap between ethics and law in looted art: the case for a transnational soft-law approach’

Panel II. Loosing Art/Loosing Identity: the Emotions of Material Culture

Commentator: Bianca Gaudenzi (Cambridge/Konstanz)

– Emily Löffler (Landesmuseum Mainz), ‘The J-numbers-collection in Landesmuseum Mainz. A case study on provenance, material culture, & emotions’

 – Michaela Sidenberg (Jewish Museum, Prague), ‘Rescue/Ransom/Restitution: The struggle to preserve the collective memory of Czech and Moravian Jews’

 – Mary Kate Cleary (Art Recovery Group, New York), ‘Marie-Louise von Motesiczky: self-portraits of a woman artist as a refugee’

Roundtable I. From Theory to Practice: Provenance Research in Museums

Chair: Robert Holzbauer (Leopold Museum, Vienna)

– Tessa Rosebrock (Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe), ‘Inventory records as a dead-end. On the purchases of French drawings by the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe from 1965 to 1990’

 – Laurel Zuckerman (Independent Researcher, Bry sur Marne), ‘Art Provenance Databases: Are They Fulfilling Their Promise? Comparative evaluation of ten major museum databases in the USA and the UK’

 – Shlomit Steinberg (Israel Museum, Jerusalem), ‘What started as a trickle turned into a flow- restitution at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem’

 – Emmanuelle Polack (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris), ‘Ethical issues regarding the restitution of Henri Matisse’s Blue Profile in front of the Chimney (1937) or Profil bleu devant la cheminée (1937)’

Friday March 24, 2017

Panel III. The Postwar Art Market: The Impact of a Changing World

Commentator: Richard Aronowitz-Mercer (Sotheby’s London)

– Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam), ‘Switzerland and Britain: Recontextualizing Fluchtgut’

 – Maike Brueggen (Independent Provenance Researcher, Frankfurt), ‘Arthur Kauffmann – dealing German art in post-war London’

 – Nathalie Neumann (Independent Researcher, Berlin), ‘Have the baby born in England!’ The trans-European itinerary (1933-1941) of the art collector Julius Freund’

 – Diana Kostyrko (Australian National University, Canberra), ‘Mute Witness: the Polish Poetess’

Panel IV. Restitution Initiatives and Postwar Politics in the United Kingdom

Commentator: Simone Gigliotti (Royal Holloway University of London)

– Elizabeth Campbell (University of Denver), ‘Monuments Woman: Anne O. Popham and British Restitution of Nazi-Looted Art’

 – Marc Masurovsky (Holocaust Art Restitution Project), ‘Operation Safehaven (1944-49): Framing the postwar discussion on restitution of Nazi looted art through British lenses’

 – Angelina Giovani (Jewish Claims Conference - Jeu de Paume Database), - A case study: ‘Looting the artist: The modern British paintings that never came back from France’

Panel V. Conflicting Interests: Restitution, National Politics and Vergangenheitsbewältigung across Postwar Europe

Commentator: Lisa Niemeyer (Independent Researcher, Wiesbaden)

– Ulrike Schmiegelt-Rietig (Wiesbaden Museum), ‘Pechora monastery, Russian collection looted by ERR and landed in Wiesbaden CCP’

 – Jennifer Gramer (University of Wisconsin-Madison), ‘Dangerous or Banal? Nazi Art & American Occupation in Postwar Germany and US’

 – Agata Wolska (Independent researcher, Krakow), ‘The Vaucher Committee as International Restitution Body – the Abandoned Idea’

 – Nicholas O’Donnell (Sullivan & Worcester LLP, Boston), ‘Comparison of statutory & regulatory origins of restitutionary commissions in Germany, Austria, NL & UK after WWII’

Roundtable II. From Theory to Practice: Provenance & the Art Market

Chair: Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art GmbH, Potsdam)

– Friederike Schwelle (Art Loss Register, London), ‘The difference between US and UK in resolving claims for Nazi looted art’

 – Isabel von Klitzing (Provenance Research & Art Consulting, Frankfurt) and Pierre Valentin (Constantine Cannon LLP, London), ‘From Theory to practice – when collectors want to do the right thing?’

November 12, 2016

Art Restitution: Tate Completes Restitution Process of Looted Constable Painting

Constable's 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton' (1824) will be returned to
its heirs on the recommendation of the UK's Spoliation Advisory Panel
London’s Tate Museum has, at long last, restituted John Constable’s painting, Beaching a Boat, Brighton to its rightful owners. The Tate returned the painting to the heirs of Baron Ferenc Hatvany, a Hungarian Jewish painter and art collector, after it emerged that the work had been looted during the second World War.  The painting was once part of  Baron Hatvany’s larger collection, one of the finest, if not the largest (a distinction belonging to the Herzog’s) art collections in Budapest.  By the early 1940s, his collection comprised of some 750-900 works of art.  

Hatvany was forced to store this, and several other artworks, in a Budapest bank vault against the threat of possible Allied bombing, before ultimately being forced to flee the city when the Nazis arrived. The Russian Army then entered Budapest in 1945 and seized the Hatvany collection, leading to long-standing legal disputes over the property rights of many of the pieces of artwork it contained.

The heirs of Baron Hatvany filed a claim with Britain's eight-member Spoliation Advisory Panel — a panel created by the British government to mediate looting claims on art works in public institutions in 2013—after someone recognized the Constable painting as having been looted whilst visiting the Tate's London collection in 2012. 


In May 2014, at the urging of the SAP, the Tate formally authorized the painting's return to three of Hatvany’s heirs — descendants who live in Paris and Switzerland.  Then, alarmingly, the museum reversed course one week later after officials from the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts produced an apparent 1946 export license for the painting.

SAP met again in September 2015 to reexamine the original facts in the case, along with the added Hungarian Museum documentation, and in a lengthy 81-page report again concluded that “No link has been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export license.” SAP then once again urged the return of the painting to the Baron’s heirs.

Agnes Peresztegi, a lawyer who works for the nonprofit Commission for Art Recovery and represents the three Hatvany heirs, has said that the case illustrated the need for museums to conduct better due diligence when checking the provenance of paintings. “Research,” she stated, must “conform to a higher standard and there is a need for more transparency.”

As is unfortunately often the case when World War II restitutions are eventually made, the Hatvany heirs have decided to put the Constable painting up for sale. The heirs of WWII looted art are often numerous or often, not necessarily wealthy.  Sometimes the only practical solution for dividing the value of inherited artworks is to witness its sale.

Baron Ferenc Hatvany’s Constable painting, Beaching a Boat, Brighton will go on the auction block at Christies in London on December 8th.  It is expected to sell for between GBS £500,000 and GBA £800,000.

By: Summer Clowers










At the urging of the SAP, the Tate formally authorized the painting's return to three heirs — descendants who live in Paris and Switzerland in May 2014.  Then alarmingly the museum reversed course one week later after officials from the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts produced an apparent 1946 export license for the painting.

The Spoliation Advisory Panel met again in September 2015 and reexamined the facts in the case along with the added documentation and in a length 81 page report again concluded that “No link has been established between Baron Hatvany and the two persons named as applying for the export license.”

Agnes Peresztegi, a lawyer who works for the nonprofit Commission for Art Recovery, who represents the three Hatvany heirs since 2012 has said the case illustrated the need for museums to conduct better due diligence when checking the provenance of paintings. “Research,” she stated, must “conform to a higher standard and there is a need for more transparency.”

As is often the case, when World War II restitutions are eventually made, the Hatvany heirs have decided to put the Constable painting up for sale.  The painting will go on the auction block at Christies in London on December 8th and is expected to sell for between GBS £500,000 and GBA £800,000.

Because the heirs of the looted art are numerous or not necessarily wealthy, sometimes the only practical solution for dividing the value of inherited artwork is to witness its sale. 





September 14, 2016

Should there be immunity for stolen art? Info Call on Bill S.3155 - the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act

Tomorrow, September 15, 2016 the United States Senate Judiciary Committee will vote, or not, on S.3155, the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act.

This bill on looted cultural artifacts in the US was first introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch [R-Utah] and subsequently cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA], Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX], Sen. Christopher Coons [D-DE], Sen. Mike Lee [R-UT], Sen. Charles Schumer [D-NY], Sen. Thom Tillis [R-NC], Sen. Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Sen. Richard Durbin [D-IL], Sen. Al Franken [D-MN], Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC], Sen. Tom Udall [D-NM], and Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]. 

The Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act would amend the federal judicial code with respect to denial of a foreign state's sovereign immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. or state courts in commercial activity cases where rights in property taken in violation of international law are an issue and that property, or any property exchanged for it, is: 

(1) present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on by the foreign state in the United States, 

or (2) owned by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in a commercial activity in the United States.

This bill would grant a foreign state or certain carriers immunity from federal or state court jurisdiction for any activity in the United States associated with a temporary exhibition or display of a work of art or other object of cultural significance if the work of art or other object of cultural significance is imported into the United States from any foreign country pursuant to an agreement for its temporary exhibition or display between a foreign state that is its owner or custodian and the United States or U.S. cultural or educational institutions; and
the President has determined that such work is culturally significant and its temporary exhibition or display is in the national interest.

If passed, this bill would grant many authoritarian regimes around the world the right to keep stolen art. Additionally the exception within the law for art stolen seized during World War II by the Nazi regime, has been narrowly interpreted, and if passed the bill would grant many of these looted works of art immunity from seizure. 

Ori Z. Soltes, Chair of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project ( “HARP”), expressed, through counsel, strong opposition to this bill via Lootedart.com, the central registry of information on looted cultural property from the period of 1933 to 1945. 

For those who would like to know more about the impact of this proposed legislation, please consider dialing in to the following teleforum event today:

SEPTEMBER 14 AT 3:30PM EST

CALL-IN: 1-888-585-9008

CONFERENCE PIN: 881-121-039

The forum will be moderated by Marion Smith, a civil-society leader, expert in international affairs, and Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

On hand for the call will be:

Pierre Ciric, an attorney and founder of the Ciric Law Firm, PLLC, a firm which specializes in art law and cultural property advice.

Eric Sundby, President of the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Foundation, Inc., a foundation which fights to return stolen antiquities while also working to combat trade in illegal antiquities, advocate for and provide education on the crimes of Nazi and Communist regimes, and end anti-Semitism and prejudice around the world.

Marc Masurovsky co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and an expert on the question of assets looted during the Holocaust and World War II.

May 9, 2015

Art Restitution: Van Dyck’s Triple Portrait of King Charles I stolen from Castle Kronberg during World War II by American servicemen to be returned to Frankfurt

From The New York Times: Brandon Thibodeaux's photo of
King Charles I in Three Positions
by Judge Arthur Tompkins

The New York Times’ Tom Mashberg is reporting the return of five artworks, originally brought by US servicemen back to the United States after World War II, to the Anhaltische Gemäldegaleriem, in Dessau. Included in the five works is one described as “an unattributed copy of a triple portrait of King Charles I of England, originally painted by Anthony van Dyck in 1636 to help Bernini create a sculpture of the king”. Mashberg reports that this work was stolen from Castle Kronberg outside Frankfurt, and was being returned by:
“Michael R. Holland, a retired house builder from Montana, who said he found them in the safe deposit box of his aunt, Margaret I. Reeb, after her death. A note in the box from Mrs. Reeb, a member of the Women’s Army Corps who had served in Germany, said she bought them there just after the war. Family lore, Mr. Holland said, has it that Mrs. Reeb, who died in 2005 and was a wartime acquaintance of Eleanor Roosevelt, bought the works from American soldiers who approached her in a Nuremberg hotel for some quick cash.”
The story caught my eye because the original painting, which is now in the UK’s Royal Collection  has a fascinating story all of its own:

Sir Athony van Dyck (1599-1641) - Charles I (1600-1649)
The Royal Art Collection, oil on canvas
Queen's Drawing Room, Windsor Castle
In the early 1630s, King Charles I was busy cementing his place as omnipotent English monarch. He had been crowned King of England in a sumptuous ceremony, and in June 1633 he was likewise crowned King of Scotland. His queen -- a quiet but persistently devout Catholic -- Henrietta Maria, so memorably portrayed by Van Dyck in such overtly political family portraits as The Great Place and in intimately affectionate portraits such as his Charles I and Henrietta Maria, was carefully trying to strengthen ties between England and Rome, and to prepare the ground for the arrival in London of the first Papal envoy since Henry VIII’s time.

As so often happened during Charles’s reign, the delicate diplomatic dance was executed, in part, by artistic means. In mid 1635, Charles and his queen commissioned Van Eyck, now firmly ensconced as Charles’ favourite painter, to prepare a portrait that they would send to Pope Urban VIII in Rome. Thus would then able the Pope to commission his own favourite sculptor, Gianlorenzo Bernini (memorably labelled by Robert Hughes as the “marble megaphone of the Renaissance”), to carve a life-size bust of Charles, which the Pope would then give as a gift to Queen Henrietta Maria, symbolizing (so the Pontiff hoped) closer ties and perhaps heralding the ultimate submission of the English Crown to the throne of St Peters.

Drawing inspiration from Lorenzo Lotto’s Portrait of a Man in Three Positions, then in the Royal Collection (now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), Van Eyck executed the sublime triple portrait of King Charles, both embodying his character and pensive but unshakeable hope for the future, and giving Bernini everything he needed to create his marble bust.

The Portrait was sent to Rome. Bernini wove his sculptural magic. The result arrived back in England in the summer of 1637, but not without significant travails and perils: the bust was packed into a wooden case, and one Thomas Chambers spent three remarkable months bringing it across Europe on boats, horses and mules, besting pirates, robbers and corrupt border guards en route.

It received a rapturous welcome when it was unpacked, and drew a promise from Queen Henrietta Maria that a fabulous diamond ring would immediately be sent to the Pope’s nephew, and which would end up being given to Bernini himself. Suspicious and opportunistic Puritans encouraged a forlorn and probably spurious rumor that the bust was stained, and would only become pure when Charles converted to Catholicism. Much later, an opportunistic broker who had profited as Charles acquired his magnificent collection, but who was then keen to rewrite history and curry favour with the Puritans, invented a fantastical prediction of the coming execution, by the bust being stained with miraculous blood:
“ … his own statue graved in Marble, which was newly brought from Rome … being set forth three drops of blood fell on the face of it … though the stains of the same could never be gotten off since.”
In the meantime, and despite any such divine imperfections or portents, Charles was delighted with the bust, especially given that it was created by the Pope’s favoured sculptor, who would otherwise have been inaccessible to the increasingly artistically astute and sophisticated but still resolutely Protestant, Charles.

And then it all came crashing down.

On a chilly January morning in 1649, and wearing two shirts so that any shivers brought on by the cold would not be mistaken for fearful trembling, Charles was executed, under authority of a Death warrant signed by the 59 men who would become known to history as the Regicides. It is unclear whether the irony of the execution taking place outside The Banqueting House in London, whose ceiling was (and is) adorned by magnificent, and politically powerful, paintings by Rubens commissioned by Charles over a decade earlier, was noted at the time.

Following his death, the Commonwealth set about valuing and selling off “the Late King’s goods” to raise funds for a severely cash-strapped Treasury. And amongst the art works sold during a chaotic, corrupt and ultimately largely unsuccessful asset sale process, was Bernini’s bust. By 1651 it was in a slightly down-at-the-heel and crowded impromptu dealership owned by one Emmanuel de Critz, one of many that sprung up all over London as the King’s art flooded onto the newly created, and never before seen, open art market. “The King’s head in white marble done by Bernino at Rome” was on display in a cramped house in Austin Friars, with a price tag of £400.

That asking price must have been too high. In May 1660, following the unforeseeable (in 1651) lurch of history that saw Charles II restored to the English Throne following years spent wandering Europe in beggarly exile after his defeat in battle by Oliver Cromwell in September 1651, Charles II set about swiftly and ruthlessly reclaiming his father’s art. In a staggeringly audacious lie, de Critz petitioned the new King for back pay of £4000 and, amazingly, £1200 for costs incurred in acquiring and looking after the late King’s art, including the Bernini bust. History does not record what response this petition triggered. De Critz himself died of the plague in 1665.

On 5 January 1698, the novelist and diarist John Evelyn noted in his diary: “Whitehall burnt! Nothing but walls and ruins left.”

That day the bulk of what had been the largest palace in Europe, exceeding both Versailles and the Vatican in size, and at its zenith, comprising 1500 rooms, was destroyed. Only the Banqueting Hall remains more or less intact, but Bernini’s Bust of Charles 1 disappeared.

As for the portrait? Bernini kept hold of it, but eventually it ended up back in the Royal Collection, returning to the fold in 1822. The Royal collection’s Provenance Statement records:
Painted for Bernini about 1637 from which he was to execute a bust and sent to Rome. Collections: Bernini family; Mr Irvine: Walsh Porter; Mr Wells. Purchased by George IV in 1822 from Mr Wells for 1000 guineas. 
Judge Arthur Tompkins of New Zealand will return to Amelia this summer to teach "Art in War" for ARCA's 2015 Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection

November 24, 2014

Gurlitt Art Collection & Provenance Research: A Perspective from Marc Masurovsky, director of the Provenance Training Research Program

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA blog Editor

I sought out the perspective of Marc Masurovsky, director of the Provenance Research Training Program which will have a new session in Rome next month, on the Kunstmuseum Bern announcement regarding acceptance of the Gurlitt art bequest and its willingness to conduct research to determine if some works had been stolen during the Nazi-era (commonly accepted as 1933-1945).

Q: Today and agreement was reached that the Kunstmuseum Bern would conduct provenance research on the Gurlitt collection before moving the artworks from Germany to Switzerland. What is the process as you understand and what do you anticipate as the strengths and weaknesses?
MM: I thought Germany would handle the provenance. That's how I interpret most press reports from this morning. 
If this is correct, the research is being conducted by individuals hired by the German government under the auspices of the Gurlitt Task Force. 
Frankly, no one is certain about how the research is being conducted. If it were left to us, you'd have to make three distinct piles: auction acquisitions in the Reich, works de-accessioned from German State museums, and works acquired in occupied territories. Those piles lead you to different archives.  The most complex are the French records for works acquired in German-occupied France.  The fundamental weakness behind this process is its opacity and the refusal of the Germans to expand the scope of the research and reach out to those who know a thing or two about these types of losses.  From what we hear, there are only a handful of individuals covering the French archives.
Last but not least, the most complex items to research are the works on paper and especially prints and lithographs.  Who knows where those came from?  To ascertain whether or not they were looted, one would have to go through all files representing losses suffered by victims in France.  The task is staggeringly tedious and complex.

Gurlitt Art Collection and the Kunstmuseum Bern: Acceptance of Bequest comes with agreement to conduct provenance research

The press conference in Berlin today generated a great deal of media interest as to if and how the Kunstmuseum in Bern would accept the bequest of Cornelius Gurlitt -- a long-hidden collection of artwork mired in accusations of Nazi-looting.  The collection consists of around 1,300 works of art on canvas and paper including paintings and sketches by Chagall, Picasso, and Claude Monet.  The bulk of the cache was discovered in Gurlitt’s Munich apartment following a routine tax investigation.

Image credit: Hannibal Hanschke
Christoph Schäublin, the director and president of the Kunstmuseum Bern's board of trustees, said that after extensive deliberation Germany, Bavaria and the Kunstmuseum Bern had reached a formal written agreement viewable in German here to formally accept the Gurlitt collection.  Schäublin emphasized that artworks directly looted from Jewish owners during the Nazi era would not enter into the collection of the Kunstmuseum Bern and would be returned to their rightful heirs.  Works suspected of having been stolen, with no claimants currently identified would remain in Germany for the immediate future to allow for further investigation by the special task already established, with an emphasis on determining the provenance of each of the pieces.  An update on the status of the task force's research is expected sometime in 2015.

Melissa Eddy reporting from Berlin for The New York Times writes in "Kunstmuseum Bern Obtains Trove from Gurlitt Collection" that Schäublin described that a 'privately funded team of experts [would] comb the history of each piece before it came into the museum's possession' .... and that a public list would be made available soon.

German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters stated that she believed that the signing of the accord by all parties represented "a milestone in coming to terms with our history" referring to Germany’s responsibilities for losses under the Nazi regime.

Cornelius Gurlitt's 86-year-old cousin Uta Werner, applied Friday to the Munich Probate Court for a certificate of inheritance in connection with her deceased cousin's estate. Speaking tothe press on Friday through legal counsel she indicated they would be contesting Gurlitt’s fitness of mind at the time he wrote the will naming the Bern museum as his sole heir meaning any resolution in this restitution case could prove lengthy. 

Gurlitt Art Collection: Kunstmuseum Bern accepts bequest from Cornelius Gurlitt

The Kunstmuseum Bern announced today in Berlin that it will accept the art collection from Cornelius Gurlitt. Lynda Albertson, ARCA's CEO, live tweeted (Ergo Sum @sauterne) during the conference: 
The Kunstmuseum Bern accepts the Gurlitt collection. This was decided by the Board of Trustees of the Art Museum.... Regarding the Gurlitt collection Schäublin says their own research centre at the Kunstmuseum Bern must be considered....  Schäublin on Gurlitt Collection: "On the threshold of the art museum is not stolen art".... Kunstmuseum pledges to fully investigate artwork restitution claims fully.... Central point of the agreement to accept Gurlitt's art collection.... Works of art looted or suspicious do not tread Swiss soil.... Berlin, Munich and Kunstmuseum Bern have signed an agreement on the management of Gurlitt's estate.... Schäublin agreement in accepting Gurlitt collection: Objects with suspicion of being Nazi-looted art will initially remain in Germany....  Bavarian Minister of Justice on the joint Gurlitt accord: "The agreement with the Kunstmuseum Bern is an important step in German history."...  Gurlitt case: The German Minister of Justice says Switzerland is the "right place" for the disputed collection....  Gurlitt press release concludes. Many questions being raised by attendees on state of task force investigation and limbo nazi loot objects.
Here are also two Swiss news outlets that covered the conference (held in German):

http://www.srf.ch/news/panorama/live-aus-berlin-kunstmuseum-bern-nimmt-gurlitt-erbe-an

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/bern-museum-accepts-controversial-art-hoard/41129776

The artworks will remain in Germany while provenance experts study the collecting history of the paintings suspected to have been looted during the Nazi-era.

Here's the latest news from BBC on the Gurlitt art collection and the conference.

Here's a chronology from the German-English news source DW.

Here's a link to the Kunstmuseum's media release (in German).




Gurlitt Art Collection: An Interview with Art Recovery's Christopher Marinello on the eve of the Kunstmuseum's announcement on acceptance or rejection of the bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt

Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, 
 ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Sunday I spoke to Christopher Marinello -- who has presented on several occasions at ARCA's annual art crime conference -- and who is the founder of Art Recovery International.  I interviewed him on the eve of the anticipated decision of whether or not the Kunstmuseum in Bern will accept the art collection bequethed to them by Cornelius Gurlitt. The federal government of Germany, the Bavarian Ministry of Culture, and the Kunstmuseum are scheduled to hold a joint press conference on Monday, November 24, 2014 at 11:00 am CET in Berlin regarding the further handling of Cornelius Gurlitt estate.  Marinello represents the Rosenberg heirs seeking restitution of a Matisse painting from the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, an action suspended when Gurlitt died and bequeathed the art in his possession to a Swiss museum.

Q: Monday morning the Kunstmuseum Bern will announce their decision to accept or reject the controversial Gurlitt collection. What do you think are some of the main issues they have had to consider and what will they try to address at the conference?

CM: I’m certain the Museum Board has considered the possible legal issues they may be facing as well as the cost involved in researching the group of paintings. Not to mention the publicity and potential reputational damage in being known as the Museum that houses the Gurlitt hoard.

Q: What is the position of your clients, the Rosenberg heirs, who have proved that Matisse was looted by the Nazis and yet are still waiting for the painting to be restituted?

CM: We are patiently waiting for the Museum to accept the Gurlitt bequest and honour their pledge to restitute any and all works deemed to have been looted by the Nazis.

Q: Could you speculate for a moment on why Cornelius Gurlitt picked the Bern museum? Did he have a relationship with them or was he just looking for an institution outside of Germany?

CM: There has been a lot of speculation on Gurlitt’s motives but it is clear, in my view, that he was looking to punish the German State for the treatment he received after his “collection” was seized.

Q: When Gurlitt was disposing of the art -- whom did he trust and do you anticipate further revelations about the collection?

CM: There will be a lot more revealed in the future on this topic. I don’t wish to comment further, if you don’t mind.

Q: What is the Gurlitt family's position regarding the collection -- is there a chance they can succeed in getting a part of the collection?

CM: The Gurlitt family has pledged privately to me, and publicly, to return the looted works to their rightful owners.

Q: How long of a process has this been for your clients and has it been caution that has slowed the restitution process?

CM: My clients have been waiting almost 75 years for the return of this picture and others. It has been over two years since this hoard was discovered by German authorities. I would say that this is a textbook example of how not to handle Nazi restitution cases. Caution or inane bureaucracy?

Q: Does the museum board have the authority to make binding restitution decisions once they take possession of the collection?

CM: Yes.

Q: What role do you anticipate that the Bavarian task force will have, if any, once the Gurlitt collection is accepted by the Bern museum?

CM: They may offer their assistance to the Kunstmuseum. We should hear more about this tomorrow.

Q: What kind of burden is placed on museums today in regard to Nazi-looted art in their collections?

CM: The Washington Principles and the ICOM code of ethics made it pretty clear what is expected of museums today. Review your collections. Conduct proper provenance research. Transparency has never been more important.

Q: What kind of assistance is available to museums regarding provenance research through organizations such as Art Recovery International or the Looted Art Commission?

CM: We offer our services at no cost to cultural institutions that are in need of assistance. Other organisations offer this type of service as well. Help is often available, all they need to do is ask.

Q: Is there a standard report accepted by ICOM to help clarify what is due diligence or satisfactory provenance on artworks in museums?

CM: There are standards set by ICOM and other organisations that museums can follow.

Q: As a lawyer and an art recovery specialist, what would you propose to expedite restitution?

CM: Generally speaking? The opening of archives, more transparency from museums in publishing their collections and their provenance, and more due diligence from every aspect of the art market. Genuine due diligence, not “optical” due diligence.

Q: What have been the lessons learned in the last year in regards to questions of Nazi-looted art in collections such as Gurlitt?

CM: 75 years later we are still facing the issue of Nazi looted art. Largely because the problem was never properly dealt with. Today, banking has become more regulated, the real estate industry is more transparent, yet the art world remains this one big secret. I have no doubt that there are more Cornelius Gurlitts out there. Public and Private collections must be more transparent and due diligence should be an absolute requirement as opposed to a 'best practice' suggestion for the well informed.

November 21, 2014

Gurlitt Art Collection: Swissinfo.ch anticipates Bern museum will accept collection

by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Michèle Laird for Swissinfo.ch in "The Gurlitt art collection no one -- and everyone -- wants" reported November 20:
Bern’s Museum of Fine Arts had planned to announce on November 26 whether it will accept the collection. It has now said the announcement will happen two days earlier - and in Berlin. The development supports the rumour that the museum will accept the collection, but leave it in Germany to allow for provenance research to be completed and potential claims to be addressed.
ARCA conference presenter Nicholas O'Donnell is quoted by Laird:
US litigation lawyer, Nicholas O’Donnell, who specialises in wartime restitution claims and produces Art Law Report, has been following the case closely. He believes that the Bern museum will accept the gift, but would likely request some kind of indemnification from Germany to face either the expense of receiving the collection, or restitution costs. “Germany must be considering the possibility just to get rid of the problem,” he told swissinfo.ch.
Laird quotes another ARCA conference presenter, Christopher Marinello, founder of Art Recovery International, on what 'masterpieces' may be restituted:
One such piece is the Matisse painting, considered to be one of the finest of the collection. Counsel to the Rosenberg heirs, the founder and director of Art Recovery International, Christopher Marinello and his team immediately set the wheels in motion to recover the painting when its existence became known. 
He joins the chorus of criticism against the “insensitive” task force, but praises the individual provenance researchers. In his opinion, they are excellent, but overwhelmed. “You can put together the best football team in the world, but without appropriate coaching and management support, it’s going to be difficult to win a match." 
Provenance research, Matthias Henkel of the German task force reminded swissinfo.ch during an initial exchange, is tremendously difficult and takes more time than anyone can imagine. It is now fairly certain that the one-year deadline to clarify the Gurlitt estate will not be met. 
According to Marinello, the Gurlitt bequest is a great opportunity for a Swiss institution to take the lead and make up for Germany’s deficiencies in this case. “I would urge the Museum of Fine Arts to accept the Gurlitt bequest and resolve the issues over the Nazi-looted works of art in accordance with the Washington Principles,” he stated.   

July 17, 2014

Kunsthal Rotterdam Art Theft: Paying for The Heist

Picasso's 1971 Harlequin
by Liza Weber, ARCA '14 Student

Lawyers of convicted art thieves of the Kunsthal Rotterdam Heist appeal court’s ruling on grounds that the “responsibility for the theft rested solely with the museum”.

Rapsinews reported that the defense for Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop are appealing the Romanian courts ruling of €18.1 million to be paid to the paintings’ insurers, since the museum had not taken “proper security measures”. The thieves’ lawyers consider “no night guards on the premises” and security “monitored offsite by a private company” as supposedly improper measures.

Dick Drent, Corporate Security Manager for the Van Gogh Museum, contends “to have guards on site is a risk” however. Recalling the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist, where thieves posing as Boston police officers duped the guard on duty, Drent explicated that security personnel “can be used for blackmail, or even taken hostage”.

When I questioned Drent whether the lawyers appeal is as though a last reserve to get their ‘crooks off the hook’, he responded: “It is very easy to lay the problem on the other party—the security was not ok, the paintings were not originals—but we are still dealing with a theft…if the paintings are not real, why were they stolen?”

And why did the thieves go to such tale-spinning lengths to account for their disappearance? The seven still missing paintings suffered an “ignominious” fate; smuggled to Romania in pillowcases, the story goes that the mother of the alleged heist ringleader, Olga, claimed she to have buried the artworks in Caracliu’s village cemetery only to unearth them so as to cook them in her oven, as if “burning a pair of slippers,” art critic Pavel Susara told the Guardian.

It’s a twisted tale with possible substance, however. In July 2013, the director of Romania's National History Museum, Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, told the Associated Press that fragments of paint, painting primer, canvas, and copper nails—some of which pre-dated the 20th century—were recovered from Olga’s oven by museum forensic specialists.

When I related the story of the paintings’ destruction to Drent, he intercepted, “no, I don’t believe that story”. He rather predicts, as is the case for the “two missing Van Gogh paintings of the 2002 robbery,” that they will “resurface in due time”. 

But resurfacing where we might question? Identifiable artworks, once stolen, are near impossible to sell on the open market at anything like their auction value. Making an example of Van Gogh’s 1889 Sunflowers “estimated at unthinkable millions,” Drent rhetorically questioned: “Since it will never be on the market, why do we ever try to affix a price?”

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is priceless. As is Picasso’s 1971 Harlequin Head and Monet’s 1901 Waterloo Bridge, to name but two of the masterpieces stolen from the Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2012 whilst temporarily on display. Which is not to say that nobody is responsible for reimbursement of the damage done to the paintings…

Rather, where the thieves’ lawyers appeal is for Dick Drent but “a diversion,” and subsequently “a non-issue,” Radu Dogaru, mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop will surely pay the price.

Ms. Weber is a freelance journalist.

July 15, 2014

Kunsthal Rotterdam: Romanian court instructs convicted art thieves to repay insurers $26 million for paintings

Lucian Freud's "Woman with
Eyes Closed" (2002)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

The AFP reported in "Art thieves ordered to pay millions over missing Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and Freud masterpieces" that the four convicted thieves who robbed the Kunsthal Rotterdam in October 2012 must pay 18 million euros ($26 million) to the paintings' insurers (unnamed):
Seven paintings that were temporarily on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam were stolen in 2012 in a raid that lasted only three minutes, in what the Dutch media called "the theft of the century". A court in the Romanian capital ordered the heist's mastermind, Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop to reimburse the paintings' insurers. Prosecutors put the total value of the haul at over 18 million euros, while art experts at the time of the heist had claimed the paintings were worth up to 100 million euros. Olga Dogaru had previously told investigators that she burned the paintings in her stove in the village of Carcaliu in eastern Romania in a bid to protect her son when he could not sell them. She later retracted the statement, but a separate investigation is under way to determine if the masterpieces did end up in ashes.
In September 2013, Andrew Higgins for The New York Times reported that the Triton Foundation received $24 million from the underwriter (Lloyd's of London) that insured the stolen paintings in exchange for relinquishing title to the artworks.

Paul Gaugin, "La Fiancée"
Here's a look at the paintings stolen from the Triton Foundation.

The Kunsthal Rotterdam reopened Feb. 1, 2014 after an extensive renovation.

Art theft 'ringleader' convicted in November 2013 and given 6 1/2 year prison sentence; ringleader claims inside help. Three defendants pled guilty in October 2013.

Earlier, in August 2013, a defendants' lawyer claimed that five paintings could be returned if the trial was moved from Romania to The Netherlands.

In July 2013 Andrew Higgins for The New York Times wrote about Facebook's role during the sting operation and how the content from the social media site was used to identify suspects involved in the art theft. The New Yorker blogs that mother of suspect burned paintings. Said mother denies destruction of art; Budapest trial announced; and journalists try to figure out if paintings were actually incinerated.

May 21, 2014

LA Times' Mike Boehm on the return of the "Temple Wrestler" from the Norton Simon Museum to Cambodia

Mike Boehm, an arts reporter for the Los Angeles Times, publishes today on the return of the "Temple Wrestler" from the Norton Simon Museum to Cambodia (see here for the museum's announcements earlier this month).

Boehm quoted the museum's legal status in avoiding a lawsuit:
The Norton Simon took a different approach, based on past cordial relations with Cambodia's cultural authorities. Without a suit having been filed, museum representatives went to Phnom Penh for discussions earlier this year. Despite what the museum characterized as "a good-faith difference of views" with Cambodia over whether the Norton Simon was legally obliged to send the statue back, its leaders concluded that there were special reasons to send it home. "While there are extremely strong legal arguments for why we could defeat a claim, and while the Cambodian law is ambiguous at best, in this circumstance it seems appropriate and in keeping with the positive relationship the Norton Simon has had with Cambodia over the years to gift the statue to them," said Luis Li, an attorney for the museum. "They have a very specific archaeological context they want to create, and I think the Norton Simon was moved by that."
And on other Cambodian art at the Norton Simon Museum, Boehm writes:
The Norton Simon Museum will still own 40 ancient Cambodian objects, including a gigantic standing figure of Buddha that serves as a greeter in its lobby, and a lion that crouches on guard near the entrance to the gallery where Bhima will soon no longer preside. It's uncertain whether a dozen other pieces are from Cambodia or from Thailand. "We have not been approached by Cambodian or U.S. officials about other works in the collection and have no indication of future requests," museum spokeswoman Leslie Denk said this week.

May 17, 2014

Norton Simon Museum announces "Temple Wrestler" last day on display in Pasadena will be May 22

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Today the Norton Simon Museum here in Pasadena sent out an email to the community:
Dear members and friends, 
You may have read in the newspaper that the Norton Simon Art Foundation is making a gift of its “Temple Wrestler” statue to the Kingdom of Cambodia. This monumental 10th-century sandstone sculpture depicting Bhima, a heroic figure from the Hindu masterpiece The Mahabharata, has been exhibited continuously at the Norton Simon Museum for nearly four decades. During this period, the Museum has taken great care to preserve the work, and to highlight its significance through scholarly research and publication. Now, following a compelling request from officials in Cambodia, the piece will return to its country of origin, joining several other sculptures that are believed to have once stood at a temple in Koh Ker. 
We wanted to inform you that the last day this remarkable artwork will be on public view is next Thursday, May 22nd. For those of you interested in seeing it before it makes its journey to Phnom Penh and to the National Museum there, we hope you will visit us in the coming days. 
Kind regards, 
Leslie C. Denk Director of Public Affairs
On May 6, 2014, the museum had issued a press release announcing the return of the "Temple Wrestler" to the Kingdom of Cambodia "in response to a unique and compelling request by top officials in Cambodia to help rebuild its “soul” as a nation, the Norton Simon has decided to make a gift of the Bhima to the Kingdom of Cambodia and to its people":
The Norton Simon properly acquired the Bhima from a reputable art dealer in New York in 1976. However, the facts about the Bhima’s provenance prior to the dealer’s ownership are unclear because of the chaotic wartime conditions in Cambodia during the 1970s. Even though the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Norton Simon have a good faith difference of views in relation to the meaning and scope of Cambodian law and guidelines governing the determination of ownership of the Bhima, the Norton Simon worked directly with Cambodia to come up with a mutually acceptable solution.
Page 287 of the Handbook of the Norton Simon Museum (2003) contains the image of this statue, identified as a sandstone TEMPLE GUARDIAN 'typical of those found at the site of Koh Ker, which for a brief period (921-928) served as the capital of the Khmer empire'. Other than the acquisition date of 1980, no other information is provided about how the statue traveled from Cambodia to the United States.

March 28, 2014

Gurlitt Art Collection: Cornelius Gurlitt's legal counsel announces restitution plans

On March 26, Cornelius Gurlitt's legal counsel announced in a press release his client's plans to return "stolen" works to claimants [boldface and italics added by ARCAblog editor]:
Salzburg portion of the Cornelius Gurlitt collection is larger than at first thought - 238 works of art have been secured - first work justifiably suspected of being Nazi-looted art about to be returned - attorney Dr. Hannes Hartung discharged 
Munich/Salzburg, March 26, 2014. The Salzburg portion of the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt is more extensive than at first thought. It encompasses 238 works of art, including 39 oil paintings. 
Among the 39 oil paintings from the Salzburg portion of the collection, seven are by landscape painter Louis Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt's grandfather, who died as long ago as 1897. Other oil paintings and watercolors were painted by artists including Monet, Corot, Renoir, Manet, Courbet, Pissaro, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Liebermann, Cézanne, and Nolde. However, by far the largest portion of the Salzburg collection consists of drawings (by artists including Picasso and Munch). The Salzburg collection, which has since been removed from Cornelius Gurlitt's Salzburg home, also includes silver vessels, ceramic bowls, and bronze, marble, and iron sculptures (including by Rodin). All works of art are being stored in a secure location and where required are currently being professionally processed and accurately documented by restorers. 
As a next step in dealing with the Salzburg portion of the Gurlitt collection, renowned international experts will be hired to conduct provenance research in order to conclusively establish the origin of the paintings. 
"If we should succeed with this task, we will continue to pursue this approach on our own initiative. One thing is certain: we will present the results of our research to the public so that they can be verified and any claimants can come forward," explains Christoph Edel, Cornelius Gurlitt's legal guardian. 
Additional inspections of the Salzburg house led to the discovery of additional works of art 
During the inspection of the house in Salzburg on February 10, 2014, with the approval of Cornelius Gurlitt, more than 60 works were located and brought to a secure location to prevent the possibility of burglary and theft at the unoccupied house. Most of these works are oil paintings, some of them quite large. In later visits to the house on February 24 and 28, 2014, above all for the purpose of removing bulky and worthless items from both levels, a number of artworks were found in a previously inaccessible portion of the old house and were subsequently removed. These, too, were brought to the secure warehouse where the other works are already being stored. 
First work from Schwabing portion of the collection about to be returned 
"If the works in Salzburg or Schwabing should be justifiably suspected of being Nazi-looted art, please give them back to their Jewish owners." This is what Cornelius Gurlitt instructed his court-appointed guardian, Christoph Edel, on one of his recent visits to Cornelius Gurlitt. "Let there be no doubt that we will carry out the instructions of our client. We are about to return a work from the Schwabing portion of the collection that is justifiably suspected of being looted art. Discussions with other claimants have been constructive as well, and we expect to be returning additional works in the coming weeks," said attorney Christoph Edel. "Moreover, we are currently working on a restitution policy based on the Washington principles that we will rely on in the future as a reasonable and uniform basis for negotiating with claimants. We will apply it just as consistently in cases that likely involve looted art as in those cases that are less clear or not clear at all," says Christoph Edel. "But we would like to reiterate once more that in our opinion only a small percentage of the Gurlitt collection is suspected of being looted art. At the same time, we appeal to museums and the public sector in Germany to follow our example." 
Dr. Hannes Hartung discharged Attorney Dr. Hannes Hartung was discharged from his duties as Gurlitt's representative with effect from today. To date, he was responsible for the art law aspects of the Gurlitt case and also conducted talks with claimants. Potential claimants are kindly asked to address Mr Edel's office for the time being.

UK's Spoliation Advisory Panel Recommends Tate Gallery Return Oil Painting by John Constable, 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton' to the Heirs of Hungarian Baron

Disputed painting: Constable's 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton'
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Lootedart.com, the website for The Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933-1945, posted "UK Spoliation Panel agrees return of Constable painting from the Tate to the Heirs of the Hungarian Owner" on March 26:
The UK Spoliation Panel today published its long awaited report on the claim for 'Beaching a Boat, Brighton' by John Constable, currently in the Tate Gallery, which acquired it in 1966. The painting, which belonged to a Hungarian collector, was lost in 1945 together with the rest of his extensive art collection. (To read the provenance of the painting, published on this site since 2001, click here.)
Here's the information that Looted Art has posted since 2001:
Provenance: Miss Isabel Constable. Dowdeswell collection, London. Auction, Christie’s, London, 1892. Cheramy collection, Paris. Cheramy collection, Paris, auction, Georges Petit, Paris, 1908, No. 19, p. 20.+ Baron Ferenc Hatvany (rightful owner), by whom purchased at auction, 1908 (No. 52). Deposited at the Hungarian General Credit Bank, Chest No. IV or V, under the name János Horváth, 1942. Taken by the Soviet Economic Officers’ Commission, 1945. 
Additional Information: “Baron Ferenc Hatvany (who was of Jewish extraction) was the most famous Hungarian art collector of his time. His collection was one of the finest in Budapest, although not the largest, comprising as it did only some 750-800 works of art. The collection belonging to Baron Herzog was appreciably larger, with 2000-2500 pieces. Ferenc Hatvany (1881-1958) died abroad. He studied as a painter under the Hungarian artists Ármin Glatter and Sándor Bihari at the artists' colony at Szolnok, and later under Jean-Paul Lurens in Paris, at the Julian Academy. The artists he most admired were Ingres and Chasseriau. As an art collector active between about 1905 and 1942, he purchased mainly masterpieces by 19th-century French painters. The great collection has become dispersed. Some works were taken from banks by the Red Army, and others from the Hatvany house by the SS officers Wilcke, Glasen and Keppler. Baron Hatvany was a generous patron of public collections in Hungary. His home - a villa which formerly belonged to Menyhért Lónyay (a prime minister of Hungary in the period of dualism) - was an elegant building designed by the fine architect Miklós Ybl.” See Sacco di Budapest, p. 223
The Spoliation Advisory Panel "resolves claims from people, or their heirs, who lost property during the Nazi era, which is now held in UK national collections." Here is their March 26 report, REPORT OF THE SPOLIATION ADVISORY PANEL IN RESPECT OF AN OIL PAINTING BY JOHN CONSTABLE, ‘BEACHING A BOAT, BRIGHTON’, NOW IN THE POSSESSION OF THE TATE GALLERY" under the name of The Honourable Sir Donnell Deeny. It is noted that the panel did not specifically identify the "heirs of the Hungarian art collector" filing the claim against the Tate Gallery which opposed restitution (Introduction, Paragraph 1). Excerpts from the report:
5. John Constable (1776-1837) composed the Painting as a sketch in oil on paper laid on canvas during one of his first visits to Brighton, in 1824. The dimensions are approximately 26 x 30 cm. He later used some motifs from it for a larger painting, the Chain Pier, also in Tate Britain. 
6. The Painting was inherited by Constable’s daughter Isabel, who died in 1888. It was sold at Christie’s in 1892 to Walter Dowdeswell, a London art dealer. Dowdeswell sold it on to P. A. Chéramy in 1902, who brought it to auction at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in May 1908, when it was purchased by the Collector. 
7. The Collector was a well-known Hungarian artist and connoisseur, whose family had amassed considerable wealth through banking and industrial activities in the nineteenth century. The Collector’s life and work have been the subject of several scholarly articles, listed by the Claimants. His collection focused in particular on French artists of the nineteenth century. 
8. The Collector, as noted, purchased the Painting at auction in Paris in 1908. The purchase was documented in an article in Der Kunstsammler: Organ fur den Internationalen Kunstmarkt, 1908 by R.A. Meyer. It is not contested by the Tate. The Painting was briefly confiscated by the Hungarian state during the Communist revolution of 1919 but returned to the Collector after the revolution was suppressed. It was inventorized in 1924 and again in 1926. 
9. The Collector, who was of Jewish origin but had converted to Christianity prior to his marriage, managed to preserve his possessions and his property, principally a palatial house in Buda and a castle in the countryside, during the increasingly antisemitic atmosphere in Hungary in the late 1930s. As an ally of Nazi Germany, Hungary began to be exposed to Allied bombing raids in 1942, and the Collector, like many others, deposited most of his artworks in bank vaults in Budapest. It is not clear, however, whether the Painting was among these artworks, or whether it remained at one of the Collector’s properties, and if so, at which one. 
10. In March 1944, when Hungary threatened to terminate its alliance with Nazi Germany, the Germans invaded, and the Collector, using false papers, went into hiding in the countryside, where he remained until the Russian liberation of Hungary in February 1945. His properties were confiscated, and contemporary witness accounts noted German military trucks being loaded with effects from the castle and being driven away. Meanwhile, some 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau and met their deaths there.
11. On its conquest of Budapest in February 1945, the Red Army conducted widespread looting of private property in the city, and, with the aid of some of its inhabitants, opened the bank vaults and carried away numerous paintings, including, according to eyewitness accounts, at least two owned by the Collector. However, there is also testimony to the effect that the vaults had already been opened by the Germans before the Red Army arrived. In any event, when he came out of hiding in March 1945, the Collector found his properties and his bank vaults empty apart from one very large painting by Courbet. 
12. Between 1946 and 1948 the Collector managed to repurchase a number of his works of art from a Soviet officer, not including the Constable Painting, which was still missing. The new Hungarian Ministry of Culture’s Commission for Artworks Looted from Public and Private Art Collections, which operated between those years, listed the Painting as number 768 on its register and recorded that it had previously been owned by the Collector. Further crates of artworks located by the Commission did not include the Painting. 
13. After the Communist takeover of Hungary in the late 1940s, the Collector and his family emigrated, taking some of their art collection with them. He died in 1958, after having sold some of his paintings in order to fund the family’s living expenses. The Constable Painting was not recorded as being among these artworks, nor did it resurface in any of the Soviet collections containing looted artworks. 
14. The Painting is recorded as being sold by a Mr. Meyer to the Leger Galleries in London in January 1962, who sold it on to the Broadway Art Gallery in Broadway, Worcestershire, where it was bought in February 1962 by Mrs. P. M. Rainsford. In 1985 she approached the Tate with a view to donating the Painting, and it was accepted by the Board of Trustees on 17 January 1986. Since that time it has been in the possession of the Tate. 
15. On 16 April 2012 the Claimants notified the Tate of their intention to bring a claim for the restitution of the Painting. The Claimants’ legal representative and a representative of the Commission for Art Recovery met with representatives of the Tate on 30 May 2012. The claim was submitted to the Panel on 18 April 2013.his family emigrated, taking some of their art collection with them. He died in 1958, after having sold some of his paintings in order to fund the family’s living expenses. The Constable Painting was not recorded as being among these artworks, nor did it resurface in any of the Soviet collections containing looted artworks.
[...] 
THE TATE’S CASE General argument 
31. The Tate argues that it is unreasonable to demand that it should have carried out provenance research at a time when Holocaust issues were not prominent in the art world. It denies that it has withheld relevant documentation from the Claimants. Far from being of major emotional significance to the Collector and his heirs, the Tate argues that the Painting was, as an English work of art, an anomaly in his otherwise almost exclusively French collection. For this reason, indeed, the Tate considers that it is possible that the Collector disposed of it voluntarily through sale or donation in his lifetime, as he did with some other works from his collection. The Tate adds that the fact that the Claimants have sold another important painting that was returned to them suggests that the value they place on the Painting is financial, not emotional. Other items from the collection would be more appropriate as symbolic reparation for the family’s sufferings during the war, which in any case, the Claimants pointed out, were not as severe as those of other Hungarian Jews until a late stage of the war. On the other hand, the Painting is of particular importance to the Tate as the major national repository of Constable’s work. On the basis of this argument, the Tate contends that even if the Panel does consider some form of redress to be appropriate, that redress should take the form of a money payment or commemoration of the history of the Painting, rather than the restitution of the Painting itself. The Painting therefore should remain in the possession of the Tate.
[...] 
40. The Tate concedes that in 2001, a researcher noticed the gap in the Painting’s provenance, including World War II, but “a decision was taken to prioritise other cases on art historical grounds”. The reason why the Painting was not included in the Tate’s List of works with incomplete provenance during the period 1933-1945 is that research on works dating from the period 1780 to 1860 had not yet been carried out, though it was in train.
THE PANEL’S CONCLUSIONS Ownership and significance of the Painting 
42. Although there are gaps and contradictions in the documentary record, the likelihood is that the Painting remained in the Collector’s possession until it was looted by the Germans in 1944 or early 1945. If it had been looted by the Red Army, it would more likely have come to light in the Soviet Union rather than being brought onto the Western European art market. The Tate itself concedes that there is no positive indication that the Collector disposed of it voluntarily, and, in connection with the issue of legal title, also makes the valid point that such issues have to be decided not on the provision of documentary proof that would provide certainty, but on the balance of probabilities. The Panel’s Constitution and Terms of Reference require it to ‘evaluate, on the balance of probability, the validity of the claimant’s original title to the object, recognising the difficulties of proving such title after the destruction of the Second World War and the Holocaust’. The documentation cited by the Claimants is extensive. All of the Collector’s donations are well documented and none includes the Painting. Nowhere is there any suggestion that the Painting was not in the Collector’s possession at the beginning of 1944. The Panel concludes that the balance of probability comes down on the side of the Collector having been in possession of the Painting until it was looted following the German invasion of Hungary in 1944. 
43. The Panel accepts the evidence presented by the Claimants as to the persecution and maltreatment of the Collector and his family following the German invasion of Hungary in 1944. However, neither the general persecution suffered by the Jewish community of Hungary in 1944/45 nor the particular suffering of the Collector and his family is directly relevant to the issue before the Panel, whose Constitution and Terms of Reference require it to give weight to the moral strength of the Claimants’ case on the basis of the circumstances under which they were deprived of the Painting, whether by theft, forced sale, sale at an undervalue, or otherwise. The Panel is not empowered to make recommendations for “symbolic restitution” on the sole grounds of the suffering of former owners. 
44. After carefully examining the art historical significance of the Painting, the Panel concludes that it was not an anomaly in the original collection. Constable was regarded as a forerunner of the Impressionists, and his paintings have been exhibited alongside theirs. The Tate’s own catalogue description of the Painting stresses this relationship, thus suggesting why the Collector acquired it as “one of the finest oil sketches by Constable then on the Continent, at a time when he was being hailed as a father figure of modern painting”. It anticipated Courbet’s marine paintings and gave “indications of everything that Manet brought into the same domain”. There is no particular reason, therefore, why the Collector should have disposed of the Painting before 1944; rather the contrary. 
45. The Panel accepts the Tate’s argument that the Painting does not possess in and of itself a particular emotional and personal significance for the Claimants, except as part of the original collection. However, the emotional significance of an object to a claimant is only one factor to be taken into account in determining whether or not to recommend restitution, though it might be relevant to the moral strength of the claim. The central issues are the strength of the moral claim and the moral obligations of the institution. 
46. Similarly, the importance of a spoliated object to a national collection is not a paramount consideration in the Panel’s view. If it were, the very principle of the restitution of important works would be called into question.
[...] 
THE PANEL’S FINAL CONCLUSION 
60. Taking into account all the above circumstances, the Panel concludes that the moral strength of the Claimants’ case, and the moral obligation on the Tate, warrant a recommendation that Beaching a Boat, Brighton, by John Constable, should be returned by the Tate to the Claimants as they desire, in accordance with the provisions of The Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009 and subject to the conditions outlined in paragraphs 54 and 55 above. The Panel recommends accordingly. In accordance with its earlier decisions the Panel considers that no reimbursement is due from the Claimants to the Tate for its expenditure as that is broadly balanced by income received and by the benefit that Tate and the public have derived from the work over the last four decades.
Judge Arthur Tompkins, who will be returning to Amelia to teach ARCA's Art in War course during the summer, commented that this news is important for two wider reasons, over and above the good news of the return of a looted artwork.
First, it is an illustration of the importance, when deciding what is to happen to a looted or plundered artwork, that account is taken not only of the legalities of the claim on both sides, in terms of evidence of loss and as questions of ownership and title, but also the moral dimensions, as they relate to the claim as advanced by the claimant and to the circumstances in which the present owner came into possession of the artwork. The United Kingdom's Spoliation Panel is required to weigh both the legal and the moral aspects when deciding a claim. The German Federal Government, when deciding the fate of the very many artworks found in the possession of Herr Gurlitt in Munich (for recent news concerning this, see this article in The New York Times and this article on the BBC News ), might learn much from the hybrid jurisdiction exercised by the Spoliation Panel. Secondly, this case shows yet again that resolving the myriad and sometimes difficult issues raised by the Nazi-era Looting and plundering of art continues to be a live issue today, an issue that is a real and continuing challenge that museums, galleries and other institutions should and must confront on an ongoing basis, rather than thinking of such cases as one-off, isolated and historical problems which only crop up now and again. It points up the need for permanent, properly-resourced provenance research work to be just as much an integral part of the day to day operations of institutions as paying the utilities bills, cataloging holdings and mounting exhibitions are.