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St. Agatha Statue – St. Martin’s Church and Private Person
In November 2012, Sotheby’s offered at auction a meter-tall statue of St. Agatha, by the Dutch sculptor Jan van Steffieswert (1465-1530). It was stolen in 1976 from St. Martin’s Church, in Gronsveld, the Netherlands.
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Dancing Shiva Statue – India and National Gallery of Australia
In 2006, New York art dealer Subhash Kapoor arranged the theft and illegal exportation of a 900-year old bronze statue of the Dancing Shiva from a small temple in Southern India. In 2008, the National Gallery of Australia bought the statue for AUD$5.6 million.
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On the Shore of the Seine – United States v. Baltimore Museum of Art
In 1951, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s painting “On the shore of the Seine” was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art in the United States. Over fifty years later, Marcia Fuqua bought this painting for US $7 at a flea market and tried to auction it off after learning of its value.
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The Night Café Painting – Morozov Heirs v. Yale University
In 1908, Ivan Morozov, a Russian art collector, purchased Van Gogh’s painting “The Night Café”. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution led to the nationalization of private property, and as such Morozov’s art collection was confiscated and subsequently sold.
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Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well – Gross-Eisenstädt Heirs and Museum de Fundatie
In 1933, Jewish businessman and art collector Richard Semmel was forced to leave Berlin and sell parts of his art collection for economic survival. Among the works was the Italian painting Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, which was bought by Dirk Hannema, a Dutch museums director. Since 1964, the painting has been in the Museum de Fundatie, which Hannema founded and to which he donated the painting.
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Road to Calvary – Oppenheimer Heirs and Private Person
In 1935, Nazi authorities took from Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer a painting entitled “Road to Calvary” by Brunswijker Monogrammist and sold it at auction. The painting resurfaced in 2006 when a Dutch private individual brought it to Sotheby’s determined to sell it. Instead of asking for the painting’s restitution, the Oppenheimer heirs demanded a portion of the sale’s proceeds. The Dutch Restitutions Committee issued a binding opinion on the matter, as requested by the parties.
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15 Archaeological Objects – Italy and Princeton University Art Museum
The Italian Government and the Princeton University Art Museum signed an agreement on 30 October 2007 that resolved the question of ownership of 15 archaeological objects in the Museum’s collection. This accord was the culmination of negotiations that were initiated by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities following the discovery of substantial evidence demonstrating the illicit provenance of the requested antiquities.
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Victorious Youth – Italy v. J. Paul Getty Museum
The “Victorious Youth” – a life-size bronze statue created sometime between the 4th and 2nd century BC – is at the centre of an ongoing dispute between Italy and the J. Paul Getty Museum. This statue was discovered in 1964, caught up in the nets of a fishing boat working out of the port of Fano on the Adriatic coast of Italy.
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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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Auschwitz Suitcase – Pierre Lévi Heirs and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oswiecim and Shoah Memorial Museum Paris
After an initial unsuccessful attempt to negotiate the dispute regarding a suitcase between the heirs of the Holocaust victim Pierre Lévi and the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, the heirs decided to file a restitution claim against the Museum. The parties eventually settled with the help of the Shoah Memorial Museum in Paris and agreed to a long-term loan of the suitcase at the Shoah Memorial Museum.
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