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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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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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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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Khmer Statue – Cambodia and Sotheby’s and the United States
In March 2011, Sotheby’s offered at auction in New York a Khmer statue. The statue was pulled out of the sale as a result of Cambodia’s request for its restitution. Cambodia claimed that it was illegally removed from the site Koh Ker during the 1970s and should be returned to them.
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Landscape with Smokestacks – Friedrich Gutmann Heirs and Daniel Searle
The heirs of Friedrich and Louise Gutmann, filed a claim against the art dealer Daniel Searle, the owner of the painting “Landscape with Smokestacks”. The painting was allegedly looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. After four years of litigation, the parties agreed to share the ownership of the painting.
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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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Lebanese Archives – Lebanon and University of Geneva
In 2010, the University of Geneva sent to Lebanon the archives concerning the excavations conducted at Byblos, an archaeological site located in the northern part of Beirut, by the French archaeologist Maurice Dunand. The University had acquired the archives from Dunand in 1984.
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Lighthouse With Rotating Beam – Flechtheim Heirs and Kunstmuseum Bonn
The heirs of the art dealer and collector Alfred Flechtheim besought the Kunstmuseum Bonn for the restitution of the painting “Lighthouse With Rotating Beam” by Paul Adolf Seehaus, alleging that it was part of Alfred Flechtheim’s collection before he fled Nazi persecution. After consideration of the claim, the Museum decided to keep the painting, but agreed to reimburse the heirs for half its market value.
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Lydian Hoard – Turkey and Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Lydian Hoard is a sixth-century B.C. collection of gold and silver objects which was clandestinely excavated in Turkey in the 1960s. It was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York. A formal demand for its return was made by Turkey in 1986.
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Machu Picchu Collection – Peru and Yale University
Between 1912 and 1916, Hiram Bingham, a history professor at Yale University, shipped to the United States several artefacts that had been excavated at the Machu Picchu site with the authorization of the Peruvian Government. Peru formally requested restitution in 1918 and 1920, but to no avail. In 2001, negotiations between Peru and Yale University resumed. However, the resulting accord discontented the Peruvian Government. As a result, Peru filed suit in the United States against Yale University seeking the return of the collection and damages.
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