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Five Schiele Watercolors – Leopold Museum and Eva Zirkl
Karl Mayländer, a Jewish businessman and art collector, was deported from Austria to occupied Poland and later killed in the Holocaust. Before leaving, he left his art collection to his partner who later sold it. Five Schiele watercolors from his collection came into the possession of the Leopold Museum. Negotiations between the museum and Eva Zirkl, Mayländer’s heir, concluded with the return of two of the five watercolors to Zirkl.
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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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Great Zimbabwe Bird – Zimbabwe and Prussia Cultural Heritage Foundation, Germany
The lower half of a stone bird discovered in Zimbabwe under dubious circumstances was bought by the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin around 1907. During the Second World War, the stone was removed by the Russian Army. After the fall of the Soviet Union, it was returned to the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin. In 2000, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation – which managed the collection of this museum – under the pressure of the German federal government finally returned the fragment of the stone bird to Zimbabwe under the terms of a permanent loan.
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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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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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Inakayal Human Remains – Argentina, Museo de La Plata and Tehuelche People
Inakayal was a leader of the Tehuelche people, a native tribe of Patagonia (Argentina). In 1884, he was captured by the Argentinian army. After his death in 1888 his remains became part of the collection of the Museo de La Plata.
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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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Jiroft Collection – Iran v. Barakat Galleries
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran sued the London-based Barakat Galleries seeking the restitution of a collection of eighteen carved jars, bowls and cups which had been illicitly excavated in the Jiroft region, in Southeast Iran, and subsequently exported abroad. The Court of Appeal, overruling the trial court decision, held that the relevant laws of Iran were sufficiently clear to vest ownership title and an immediate right of possession of the relics in the Iranian State.
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