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Kennewick Man – Bonnichsen v. United States

Kennewick Man – Bonnichsen v. United States

The skeleton of a 9,000 year old man was discovered on Federal territory near the city of Kennewick, Washington. Authorities decided to grant the request of five American Indian tribes, and transferred the remains to those tribes for burial. Several scientists, including Robson Bonnichsen, opposed the return and filed suit in the District Court of Oregon. Finding that evidence was not sufficient to link the remains to any present-day American Indian tribe, the District Court vacated the authority’s decision and ordered further examination of the remains. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the order on appeal.

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Khmer Statue – Cambodia and Sotheby’s and the United States

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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La Bergère – Meyer Heirs and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

La Bergère – Meyer Heirs and Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Raoul Meyer’s art collection, which included Camille Pissarro’s painting “La bergère rentrant des moutons”, was looted by Nazi troops during the occupation of France in early 1940s. Decades later, Meyer’s daughter and heir, Léone Meyer, discovered the painting at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and initiated a lawsuit in the United States seeking its return. After a three-year litigation, the two sides reached a settlement in 2016.

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La cueillette de Pissarro – Héritiers Simon Bauer c. Bruce et Robbi Toll

La cueillette de Pissarro – Héritiers Simon Bauer c. Bruce et Robbi Toll

Les héritiers de Simon Bauer, juif déporté dont la collection avait été confisquée sous le régime nazi, profitent de la présence du tableau de Pissarro « La cueillette » en France dans le cadre d’une exposition pour en demander la restitution. Le Tribunal de grande instance de Paris ordonne la restitution de la toile le 7 novembre 2017. La Cour d’appel a confirmé cette décision le 2 octobre 2018.

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Landscape with Smokestacks – Friedrich Gutmann Heirs and Daniel Searle

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

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

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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Liberation of Saint Peter from Prison – Feldmann Heirs and Private Person

Liberation of Saint Peter from Prison – Feldmann Heirs and Private Person

In 2002, an American professor spontaneously contacted the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) as she suspected that the drawing she had inherited, “The Liberation of Saint Peter from Prison”, was looted from Arthur Feldmann during WWII. IFAR established evidence which confirmed her suspicions and acted as a facilitator, together with the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, in the negotiations between the professor and the Feldmann heirs. In 2004, the professor agreed on the unconditional restitution of the drawing to the Feldmann heirs.

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Lighthouse With Rotating Beam – Flechtheim Heirs and Kunstmuseum Bonn

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

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

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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Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory – Konowaloff v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory – Konowaloff v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ivan Morozov’s extensive art collection, which included the painting by Cézanne called Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory, was confiscated by the Bolsheviks and declared property of the state. Stephen Clark purchased Madame Cézanne in the Conservatory from the Second Museum of Western Art in 1933. Upon his death, he bequeathed the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Pierre Konowaloff, Morozov’s heir, brought an action for restitution of the painting in the United States federal courts. His claim was unsuccessful and the Metropolitan Museum of Art retained the painting.

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Madonna and Child in a Landscape – Philipp von Gomperz Heirs and North Carolina Museum of Art

Madonna and Child in a Landscape – Philipp von Gomperz Heirs and North Carolina Museum of Art

In 2000, the North Carolina Museum of Art handed over the painting “Madonna and Child in a Landscape” to Philipp von Gomperz’s heirs after being presented with evidence that it had been looted by the Nazis. The heirs rewarded the Museum’s response by selling the painting to it at a price substantially below its market value.

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Madonna and Child with Wild Roses – Gross-Eisenstadt Heirs and Utrecht City Council

Madonna and Child with Wild Roses – Gross-Eisenstadt Heirs and Utrecht City Council

German-Jewish businessman Richard Semmel had an extensive art collection which he was forced to sell after fleeing Jewish persecution in Germany. Among this collection was the painting “Madonna and Child with Wild Roses” by Jan van Scorel.

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Mandat signé par Jean Calvin - République et canton de Genève et Sotheby's

Mandat signé par Jean Calvin - République et canton de Genève et Sotheby's

En novembre 2016, il est porté à la connaissance de l’archiviste d’État de Genève qu’un document datant du XVIe siècle et volé probablement au XIXe siècle figure sur le catalogue de la prochaine vente aux enchères de Sotheby’s à New York. Un accord d’indemnisation est signé le 1er septembre 2017 entre Sotheby’s, le possesseur et deux intervenants privés. Le même jour, un accord distinct de restitution est signé entre la République et canton de Genève, Sotheby’s et le possesseur.

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Manuscrit du Marquis de Sade – Héritier Nordmann et héritier de Noailles et Gérard Lhéritier

Manuscrit du Marquis de Sade – Héritier Nordmann et héritier de Noailles et Gérard Lhéritier

Les « Cent Vingt Journées de Sodome » du Marquis de Sade avait été dérobé à la famille de Nouailles puis acquis par un collectionneur suisse – Gérard Nordmann – qui a toujours refusé de la rendre. C’est grâce à un accord entre l’héritier des Nouailles et l’héritier Nordmann que le manuscrit a pu retourner en France, où il a été classé trésor national en 2017.

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Manuscrits Coréens – France et Corée du Sud

En 1866, l’Amiral Roze entreprend une expédition punitive en Corée. A cette occasion, de nombreux biens culturels sont détruits et certains emportés. Le 7 février 2011, la France et la Corée du Sud signent un accord portant sur le prêt des archives royales à la Corée du Sud.

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Maori Panels – New Zealand and Ortiz Heirs

Maori Panels – New Zealand and Ortiz Heirs

In 1972, five rare Maori wooden panels were discovered in a swamp in New Zealand’s North Island. Shortly after the discovery, the panels were illegally exported out of the country by an antiquities dealer and then bought by Swiss collector George Ortiz. In 2014 New Zealand obtained the return of the Maori panels by virtue of an agreement with the heirs of Ortiz.

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Marienkirche Window Panels – Germany and Russia, State Hermitage Museum, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Marienkirche Window Panels – Germany and Russia, State Hermitage Museum, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

In 1997, 111 panels originally forming a window of the St. Marienkirche (St Mary Church) in Frankfurt-on-the-Oder were located in the Russian State Hermitage Museum. They were brought to Russia by Soviet troops following World War II. In 2001, after difficult negotiations, Russia agreed to return the panels to Germany. In exchange, the German Government offered to finance the reconstruction of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God located near Novgorod. A second group of 6 panels found in 2005 in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was returned to Germany in 2008.

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Masque Makondé – Tanzanie et Musée Barbier-Mueller

Masque Makondé – Tanzanie et Musée Barbier-Mueller

En 2010, le Musée Barbier-Mueller fait don du Masque Makondé à la Tanzanie, et met ainsi fin à un litige qui aura duré plus de 20 ans. Le litige fut porté devant le Comité intergouvernemental de l’UNESCO. L’Office fédéral suisse de la culture (OFC) est aussi intervenu.

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