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Deux cavaliers sur la plage – Héritiers Friedmann, Kunstmuseum de Berne, République fédérale d’Allemagne et Etat libre de Bavière

Deux cavaliers sur la plage – Héritiers Friedmann, Kunstmuseum de Berne, République fédérale d’Allemagne et Etat libre de Bavière

En 1942, le marchand d’art Hildebrand Gurlitt reçoit le tableau Deux cavaliers sur la plage de Max Liebermann qui a été spolié au collectionneur juif David Friedmann. Il meurt en 1956 et son fils Cornelius hérite de sa riche collection d’œuvres. La collection est découverte par hasard en 2012 et conservée secrètement par les autorités allemandes afin de déterminer l’origine des objets.

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Durga Idol – India and Germany

Durga Idol – India and Germany

In the 1990s, a 10th century idol representing the Indian Goddess Durga was reported as stolen from a temple in Tengpora, Pulwana in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The idol was found at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart in 2012. After presenting the evidence of its provenance, the idol was returned to India on “ethical grounds”.

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Egyptian Archaeological Objects – United States v. Frederick Schultz

Egyptian Archaeological Objects – United States v. Frederick Schultz

On 16 July 2001, Frederick Schultz, a New York antiquities dealer, was indicted on one count of conspiring to receive stolen Egyptian antiquities in violation of the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA). Under the NSPA, it is a crime to deal in property that has been “stolen, unlawfully converted or taken, knowing the same to be stolen”.

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Elmali Hoard – Turkey and OKS Partners

Elmali Hoard – Turkey and OKS Partners

In 1999, OKS Partners, a consortium comprised of, among others, the American businessman William Koch, returned to Turkey nearly 1700 ancient coins. The coins were part of the Elmali Hoard, a precious and rare collection of ancient coins, also called the “Hoard of the Century,” that had been illegally excavated and smuggled out of Turkey in 1984.

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Etruscan Black-Figured Kalpis – Italy and Toledo Museum of Art

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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Euphronios Krater and Other Archaeological Objects – Italy and Metropolitan Museum of Art

Euphronios Krater and Other Archaeological Objects – Italy and Metropolitan Museum of Art

In February 2006, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York entered into a landmark agreement with which the ownership title to the Euphronios Krater and other archaeological artefacts was transferred to the Italian Government.

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Five Italian Paintings – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs v. Musée du Louvre and France

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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Five Schiele Watercolors – Leopold Museum and Eva Zirkl

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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Four Old Master Drawings – Feldmann Heirs and the British Museum

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

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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G’psgolox Totem Pole – Haisla and Sweden and the Stockholm Museum of Ethnography

G’psgolox Totem Pole – Haisla and Sweden and the Stockholm Museum of Ethnography

In 1927, a totem pole belonging to the Haisla tribe in Canada was stolen and brought to the Stockholm Museum of Ethnography. In 1991, the tribe discovered the location of their totem pole, known as the G’psgolox totem pole, and requested that it be returned. After fifteen years of negotiations, the G’psgolox totem pole was formally returned to the tribe in 2006.

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Gravures Dja Dja Wurrung – Musée de Melbourne c. Dja Dja Wurrung

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

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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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

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 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

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

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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Ka Nefer Nefer Mask – United States v. Mask of Ka Nefer Nefer

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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