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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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Buddhist Paintings – Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) bought four Buddhist paintings in 1998. These paintings were featured in frequent exhibitions of LACMA’s Korean art galleries until the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism notified LACMA that the paintings were stolen. After amicable negotiation, these paintings were returned to the Jogye Order in August 2020.
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Two Lithographs of the Glaser Collection – Glaser Heirs and Kunstmuseum Basel
In 1933, the Kunstmuseum Basel purchased about 200 drawings and prints at the Max Perl auction in Berlin. These works belonged to Curt Glaser, a Jewish art collector and director of the Art Library in Berlin. In 2004, the Glaser heirs requested the Kunstmuseum to return two artworks by Edvard Munch, but the Museum refused. Following negociations, the Kunstmuseum Basel and the heirs of Curt Glaser reached a seemingly “just and fair solution”.
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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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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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Maori Panels – New Zealand and Ortiz Heirs
In 1972, five rare Maori wooden panels were discovered in a swamp in New Zealand’s North Island. Shortly after the discovery, the panels were illegally exported out of the country by an antiquities dealer and then bought by Swiss collector George Ortiz. In 2014 New Zealand obtained the return of the Maori panels by virtue of an agreement with the heirs of Ortiz.
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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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Sumpflegende – Héritiers Lissitzky-Küppers et Ville de Munich
Après 25 ans de litige juridique et de négociation, le sort de « Sumpflegende », un tableau de Paul Klee prêté à une galerie allemande en 1926 puis confisqué par les Nazis au titre d’art « dégénéré », est scellé. En juillet 2017, les héritiers de Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, laquelle avait prêté le tableau, concluent un accord avec la Ville de Munich et une fondation privée. L’œuvre reste exposée dans un musée munichois et les héritiers Lissitzky-Küppers sont indemnisés.
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Vallée de la Stour – Héritiers Jaffé et La Chaux-de-Fonds
En 2006, la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds reçoit une demande de restitution pour le tableau « La Vallée de la Stour » de John Constable exposé au Musée des beaux-arts de La Chaux-de-Fonds. Le requérant représente les ayants droit héritiers de John et Anna Jaffé, dont les biens, y compris ce tableau, ont été spoliés par les Nazis durant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Après avoir d’abord refusé, la Ville accepte de restituer le tableau à l’automne 2017 suite à une procédure de conciliation judiciaire. Le Tableau est restitué aux héritiers le 12 mars 2018.
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Gravures Dja Dja Wurrung – Musée de Melbourne c. Dja Dja Wurrung
Au printemps 2004, le Musée de Melbourne organise une exposition d’œuvres sur écorces aborigènes. Parmi les biens présentés figurent deux anciennes gravures sur écorces prêtées par le British Museum et les Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. La tribu australienne Dja Dja Wurrung bloque le retour de ces objets en Angleterre. Après des négociations et une médiation infructueuses avec les représentants Dja Dja Wurrung, le Musée de Melbourne intente une action judiciaire.
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