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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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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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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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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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Morgantina Goddess Statue – Italy and J. Paul Getty Museum
An ancient statue of a goddess, which was likely illegally excavated in the late 1970s in Italy, was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1988 for a record-setting US$18 million. That same year, Italian authorities began an investigation at the conclusion of which the Getty Museum agreed to consider returning the statue to Italy.
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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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Canon Tables – Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and J. Paul Getty Museum
The Canon Tables of the Zeyt’un Gospels were illegally separated from the manuscript sometime between 1915-1923. Having discovered that the Tables had been stolen and were held at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church engaged in a legal battle with the Getty regarding the restitution of the Tables. After five years, the two sides reached a settlement in 2015.
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