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Trésor de Béhanzin – France et Bénin
En 1892, les militaires français pillent le palais de Béhanzin à Abomey afin d’asseoir le pouvoir colonialiste de la France dans la région du Bénin. Plus d’un siècle après, le Parlement français vote, par une loi de restitution dite spontanée, issue d’un projet de loi du gouvernement, la restitution de ce trésor à son pays d’origine.
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Sabre de El Hadj Omar Tall – France et Sénégal
Le sabre avec fourreau, attribué à El Hadj Omar Tall, pris dans des circonstances encore obscures, a été conservé en France à la suite de la conquête de l’Empire Toucouleur, puis prêté à deux reprises au Sénégal avant d’être définitivement restitué par la France, en 2021, par le vote d’une loi de restitution issue d’une initiative politique française.
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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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Ka Nefer Nefer Mask – United States v. Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer
On July 28, 2014, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request of the United States Government to take further legal action regarding the St. Louis Art Museum’s ownership of the 3200 year old Egyptian Ka Nefer Nefer funerary mask.
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Hopi Masks – Hopi Tribe v. Néret-Minet and Estimations & Ventes aux Enchères
Between 2013 and 2014, dozens of Hopi’s sacred objects were sold at auctions in Paris despite strong protests and legal actions launched by the Hopi tribe. These actions were unsuccessful because French judicial authorities denied legal standing to the Hopis and considered that the sales did not violate French law.
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Le Grand Pont – Weinmann Heirs and Yale University Art Gallery
The painting “Le Grand Pont”, by Gustave Courbet, was owned by Josephine Weinmann and her family, but after they were forced to flee Germany from Nazi persecution, the painting was purchased by Herbert Schaefer, a Nazi militant. When Schaefer later loaned the painting to the Yale University Art Gallery, Weinmann’s heirs sued for its return.
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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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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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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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Two Dürer Paintings – Kunstsammlungen Zu Weimar v. Elicofon
In 1945, two portraits by Albrecht Dürer were stolen from the collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar. Stored for safekeeping in the Schwarburg Castle during the Second World War, the paintings disappeared during the time that American troops occupied the Castle.
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