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Etruscan Black-Figured Kalpis – Italy and Toledo Museum of Art
After an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations, the Toledo Museum of Art returned in 2013 an Etruscan black-figure kalpis to Italy. The kalpis was found to be smuggled out of Italy after an illegal excavation prior to 1981, then sold to the Toledo Museum of Art in 1982 by Gianfranco and Ursula Becchina, who had earlier purchased it from the art smuggler Giacomo Medici.
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Five Italian Paintings – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs v. Musée du Louvre and France
In 1998, the heirs of the renowned Jewish art collector Federico Gentili di Giuseppe sued the Louvre Museum seeking the restitution of five paintings. These paintings, which were part of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe’s collection, were bought at auction by Herman Göring in 1941 and transferred to the Musée du Louvre at the end of the Second World War.
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Four Old Master Drawings – Feldmann Heirs and the British Museum
In May of 2002, the British Museum was confronted with a restitution claim by the heirs of the Second World War victim, Arthur Feldmann, regarding four Old Master drawings. The Commission of Looted Art Europe, who represented the claimant, and the British Museum, jointly sought guidance from the Spoliation Advisory Panel. After deferral of the Attorney General, the High Court held that under the British Museum Act the Museum could not restitute an object in order to meet a moral obligation without an Act of Parliament. Eventually, the British Museum followed the recommendation of the Spoliation Advisory Panel and compensated the family with an ex gratia payment.
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Fresques de Casenoves – Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de la Ville de Genève et la France
Le 1er juillet 1997, le Musée d’art et d’histoire de la Ville de Genève et l'Etat français, representé par son Ministère de la culture, ont signé un accord portant sur le prêt de deux fragments des fresques de Casenoves (Christ en Majesté et Adoration des Mages). Le 19 mars 2003, le Conseil administratif de la Ville de Genève a décidé de transformer ce prêt en donation.
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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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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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Herzog Collection – De Csepel et al. v. Republic of Hungary et al.
The “Herzog Collection” was originally an assembly of over two thousand works of art, collected by Baron Mór Lipót Herzog in the early 1900s. During World War II, the collection was seized by the Hungarian government, under Nazi orders. For the last seven decades, the Herzog Heirs have attempted to reclaim the Collection from the Republic of Hungary, without success. Now, the Herzog Heirs are taking their claim to the United States Supreme Court.
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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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Icklingham Bronzes – John Browning and Leon Levy and Shelby White
A group of antiquities known as the “Icklingham Bronzes” were illicitly excavated from the farm of John Browning sometime in the early 1980s. By 1989 they were on sale in New York. John Browning formally demanded the restitution of the Bronzes from Leon Levy and Shelby White, the good faith purchasers, but the request was rejected.
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Jardin à Auvers – Agent judiciare du Trésor c. Walter
Dans son arrêt du 20 février 1996, la Cour de Cassation de la France a condamné l’Etat français à indemniser le propriétaire d’un tableau dont l’exportation avait été refusée pour cause de classement d’office.
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