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Case Cranach Diptych – Goudstikker Heirs and Norton Simon Museum
The Cranach diptych “Adam and Eve” was presumably part of Jacques Goudstikker’s collection looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. For several years, Goudstikker’s sole heir, Marei von Saher, and the Norton Simon Museum in California have led unsuccessful negotiations regarding the heir’s restitution claim. Notwithstanding the support received by the State of California and by several organizations, Marei von Saher’s claims in replevin were dismissed by both the District Court for the Central District of California and by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court of the United States denied the heir’s petition for writ of certiorari.
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Guelph Treasure – Alan Philipp, Gerald G. Stiebel and Jed R. Leiber v. Germany and Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation
A collection of medieval ecclesiastical art is claimed by the heirs of three Jewish dealers, who allege that the collection was sold under duress during the Nazi era. After an unsuccessful conciliation in front of Germany’s Advisory Commission, the claim is being litigated before the courts of the United States. On 3 February 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favour of Germany on the interpretation of the expropriation exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
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Portrait d’Isabelle d’Este – Cecchini c. Italie
Dans le cadre d’une procédure pénale, le procureur du Tribunal de Pesaro (Italie) a adressé à la Suisse une demande d’entraide judiciaire portant sur un tableau attribué à Leonardo da Vinci qui aurait été transféré d’Italie en Suisse, par sa propriétaire, sans l’autorisation des autorités italiennes. Après avoir fait séquestrer le tableau, le Ministère public du Tessin ordonne la remise de ce dernier à l’Italie. La propriétaire de l’œuvre recourt contre cette décision jusqu’au Tribunal fédéral, qui casse la décision précédente.
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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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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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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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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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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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Sevso Treasure – Lebanon et al. v. Marquess of Northampton
The Sevso Treasure was consigned at Sotheby’s by the Marquess of Northampton in 1989. Sotheby’s released a press statement which said that the treasure would not be sold until all claims against it had been dealt with. Hungary bought seven pieces of the treasure in 2014, and a further seven pieces in 2017.
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