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The Actor – Leffmann Heir v. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Before the Second World War, Paul and Alice Leffmann, a couple of German Jews, fled Germany to Italy and then to Brazil. To be able to leave Europe, they sold the painting “The Actor” by Picasso to three art dealers for a fraction of its market value. In 1939, one of the dealers sold the painting to Thelma Foy. Several years later, Thelma Foy donated the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York. In the 2010s, the great-grandniece of Paul and Alice Leffmanns sued the MET to retrieve the painting.
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Ulanen auf dem Marsch – Fondation Max et Iris Stern et Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
En juin 1936, dans un contexte de montée du nazisme, Max Stern, un galeriste juif, vend l’œuvre d’art intitulée « Ulanen auf dem Marsch ». Cette œuvre d’art est acquise en 1986 par le Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen. La Fondation Max et Iris Stern, représentant les héritiers de Max Stern, demande la restitution de la peinture au musée bavarois par le biais de la « Beratende Kommission ».
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Two Schiele Paintings – Grunbaum Heirs v. Richard Nagy
In 1938, the Nazis expropriated the art collection of Fritz Grunbaum while he was detained in Dachau concentration camp. In 2016, the Grunbaum heirs filed suit against Richard Nagy, the art dealer in possession of two of the paintings by Schiele that formed part of Fritz Grunbaum’s collection (“Woman in a Black Pinafore” and “Woman Hiding Her Face”). Eventually, the New York’s Supreme Court directed Nagy to return the artworks to the Grunbaum heirs.
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Die Grosse Seestrasse in Wannsee – X. v. Switzerland
The painting “Die Grosse Seestrasse in Wannsee” was bought in 1948 by François de Diesbach. After de Diesbach’s death, the painting was forgotten within the Swiss embassy. When the Swiss embassy decided to donate the painting to the Liebermann Villa, a distant relative of de Diesbach seized a Swiss court and claimed ownership over the painting. The High Court of the Canton of Bern ultimately held that the Swiss Confederation had acquired ownership over the painting.
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Pulcinell Sculpture – Budge Heirs v. Anonymous Purchaser
A sculpture of Pulcinell was purchased by an anonymous buyer at auction in London in 2016. The buyer applied for an export license and the case came before the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest of the United Kingdom. During the review, it was discovered that the sculpture had been subject to forced sale by Nazis in 1937. The heirs of Emma Budge, the dispossessed owner of the sculpture, discovering what had become of the sculpture, attempted to secure its restitution.
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Portrait of Greta Moll – Moll Heirs v. National Gallery of London
The “Portrait of Greta Moll” has been subject to a claim for return. The heirs of the painting’s subject argued the painting was stolen in the aftermath of the Second World War and claimed that the National Gallery of London did not purchase the work in good faith. The case has been heard in two courts of the United States.
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Biccherna Panel – Anonymous Heirs and British Library
In 2013, the British Library was contacted by the heirs of A.S. Drey, a Munich firm whose assets were sold off by Nazis in 1936. The heirs requested the return of the “Biccherna Panel” and lodged a claim with the UK Spoliation Advisory Panel, which found in favour of the claimants. However, following negotiations, the heirs accepted compensation in lieu of return, allowing the Biccherna Panel to remain in the British Library.
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La Frise Beethoven – Héritiers Lederer c. Autriche
En 2013, les héritiers du collectionneur Enrich Lederer demandent la restitution de la « Frise Beethoven » de Klimt à l’État autrichien. Cette Frise avait été spoliée à Vienne à la famille Lederer par les nazis avant d’être restituée à Enrich Lederer à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Par la suite, Enrich Lederer l’avait vendue à l’État autrichien tout en clamant qu’il n’avait pas d’autre choix.
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La cueillette de Pissarro – Héritiers Simon Bauer c. Bruce et Robbi Toll
Les héritiers de Simon Bauer, juif déporté dont la collection avait été confisquée sous le régime nazi, profitent de la présence du tableau de Pissarro « La cueillette » en France dans le cadre d’une exposition pour en demander la restitution. Le Tribunal de grande instance de Paris ordonne la restitution de la toile le 7 novembre 2017. La Cour d’appel a confirmé cette décision le 2 octobre 2018.
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Herzog Collection – De Csepel et al. v. Republic of Hungary et al.
The “Herzog Collection” was originally an assembly of over two thousand works of art, collected by Baron Mór Lipót Herzog in the early 1900s. During World War II, the collection was seized by the Hungarian government, under Nazi orders. For the last seven decades, the Herzog Heirs have attempted to reclaim the Collection from the Republic of Hungary, without success. Now, the Herzog Heirs are taking their claim to the United States Supreme Court.
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