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Ancient Coins – Ancient Coin Collectors Guild v. United States
In an attempt to challenge import regulations in force in the United States (US), the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (ACCG) imported into the US 23 ancient coins, which were seized by customs officials. The case was litigated from 2007 to 2019, with courts consistently deciding in favour of the US Government and the import restrictions remaining in place.
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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 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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The Windmill – Rüdenberg Heirs v. City of Hannover
Max Rüdenberg, a Jewish salesman and art collector, acquired several modern art pieces beginning in the late 1910s. Due to the discriminatory Nazi politics, the Rüdenberg family was forced to sell the art collection, including the painting “The Windmill” by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.
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Portrait of a Youth – Reichel Heirs v. Sarah Blodgett Dunbar
In the mid-2000s, Claudia Seger-Thomschitz, one of the heirs of Oskar Reichel, attempted to recover the painting “Portrait of a Youth” from Sarah Blodgett Dunbar on the grounds that it had been lost as a result of Nazi persecution. The 2010 appeal decision of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals settled the case in favour of Sarah Blodgett Dunbar.
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Poster Collection – Sachs Heirs v. Foundation German Historical Museum
Hans Sachs began collecting posters from the end of the nineteenth century. This collection was considered lost as a result of its seizure by the Nazis in 1937. In 2005, Peter Sachs, as Hans Sachs’ son and sole heir, located his father’s collection at the German Historical Museum and demanded its restitution. A judgment of the German Federal Court of Justice made possible the return of the poster collection to Peter Sachs.
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La Bergère – Meyer Heirs and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Raoul Meyer’s art collection, which included Camille Pissarro’s painting “La bergère rentrant des moutons”, was looted by Nazi troops during the occupation of France in early 1940s. Decades later, Meyer’s daughter and heir, Léone Meyer, discovered the painting at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and initiated a lawsuit in the United States seeking its return. After a three-year litigation, the two sides reached a settlement in 2016.
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