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Adoration of the Magi – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs and Museum of Fine Arts Boston
In February 2000, the heirs of the renowned Jewish art collector Federico Gentili di Giuseppe initiated negotiations with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston on the restitution of the painting “Adoration of the Magi”, by Corrado Giaquinto. The painting had been sold at an auction in 1941. In October 2000, the heirs reached a part purchase-part donation agreement with the MFA Boston.
Baldin Collection – Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany and State Hermitage Museum Russia
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Soviet Army Captain Victor Baldin brought to Moscow many artworks of the collection of the Kunsthalle Bremen (Bremen Art Museum). The dispute for the restitution of the so-called “Baldin Collection” is ongoing and has grown to one of the most debated cases between Germany and Russia.
Bath of Bathsheba – Italy and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
The painting “The Bath of Bathsheba”, by Jacopo Zucchi, was looted in 1945 from the Italian Embassy in Berlin, where it was on loan from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica of Rome. In 1965, it was acquired by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
Beneventan Missal – Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento and British Library
On 11 November 2010, a 12th Century manuscript, also known as the “Beneventan Missal”, was returned to the Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento, in Italy. The Missal disappeared in 1943 when the city was occupied by the Allied forces during World War II.
Buste d’un jeune garçon – Héritiers Gentili di Giuseppe et Art Institute de Chicago
En 1999, les héritiers de l’important collectionneur d’art de confession juive Federico Gentili di Giuseppe ont contacté l’Art Institute de Chicago afin d’obtenir la restitution d’un buste de Francesco Mochi (« Buste d’un jeune garçon »). Ce buste avait été vendu en France lors d’une vente par la suite annulée par les juges français car constitutive de spoliation.
Canon Tables – Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America and J. Paul Getty Museum
The Canon Tables of the Zeyt’un Gospels were illegally separated from the manuscript sometime between 1915-1923. Having discovered that the Tables had been stolen and were held at the J. Paul Getty Museum in California, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church engaged in a legal battle with the Getty regarding the restitution of the Tables. After five years, the two sides reached a settlement in 2015.
Chagall Gouache – Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Lubell
In 1993, the Guggenheim Foundation, Mrs. Rachel Lubell, and other interested parties reached a settlement regarding a Marc Chagall painting that had been stolen from the Museum and purchased by Mrs. Lubell almost thirty years prior. Though a trial court had originally held the Guggenheim’s suit seeking recovery was time-barred, the Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s decision and clarified New York’s “demand and refusal” rule. On remand, the parties settled just one day after the new trial began.
Cranach Diptych – Goudstikker Heirs and Norton Simon Museum
The Cranach diptych “Adam and Eve” was presumably part of Jacques Goudstikker’s collection looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. For several years, Goudstikker’s sole heir, Marei von Saher, and the Norton Simon Museum have led unsuccessful negotiations regarding the heir’s restitution claim. Notwithstanding the support received by the State of California and by several organizations, Marei von Saher’s claims in replevin were dismissed by both the District Court for the Central District of California and by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The heir’s battle is still ongoing.
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.
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.
Kanakaria Mosaics – Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus and Cyprus v. Goldberg
Four mosaics were stolen from the Cypriot Church of the Panagia Kanakaria in Lythrankomi, following the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus of 1974. Afterwards, they were purchased by an American art dealer, Peg Goldberg. In 1989, the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the Republic of Cyprus traced the mosaics to Indiana and filed a judicial claim to obtain restitution.
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.
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.
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.
Morgantina Goddess Statue – Italy and J. Paul Getty Museum
An ancient statue of a goddess, which was likely illegally excavated in the late 1970s in Italy, was purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1988 for a record-setting US$18 million. That same year, Italian authorities began an investigation at the conclusion of which the Getty Museum agreed to consider returning the statue to Italy.
Mosaïques de Kanakaria – Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus et Chypre c. Goldberg
Quatre mosaïques sont volées dans l’Eglise chypriote du village de Lythrankomi. Une dizaine d’années plus tard, elles sont achetées par Goldberg, une commerçante d’art américaine. L’Eglise chypriote finit par apprendre le lieu où se trouvent les mosaïques et la personne en possession de celles-ci. Peu après, l’Eglise chypriote et la République de Chypre introduisent une action en justice auprès des tribunaux de l’Etat de l’Indiana aux Etats-Unis.
Pièces d’or géantes – Inde c. Crédit Agricole Indosuez SA
Deux pièces d’or géantes anciennes d’une valeur exceptionnelle, tant d’un point de vue économique que culturel, sont mises en gage auprès d’une Banque à Genève par le petit-fils de l’ancien Nizam de la Principauté d’Hyderabad. L’Inde introduit une action auprès des tribunaux genevois dans le but d’en obtenir la restitution.
Portrait of a Youth – Reichel Heirs v. Sarah Blodgett Dunbar
In the mid-2000s, Claudia Seger-Thomschitz, one of the heirs of Oskar Reichel, attempted to recover the painting “Portrait of a Youth” from Sarah Blodgett Dunbar on the grounds that it had been lost as a result of Nazi persecution. The 2010 appeal decision of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals settled the case in favour of Sarah Blodgett Dunbar.
Portrait of Greta Moll – Moll Heirs v. National Gallery of London
The “Portrait of Greta Moll” has been subject to a claim for return. The heirs of the painting’s subject argued the painting was stolen in the aftermath of the Second World War and claimed that the National Gallery of London did not purchase the work in good faith. The case has been heard in two courts of the United States.
Quedlinburg Treasures – Quedlinburg Church and Meador Heirs
After the withdrawal of US troops from the medieval town of Quedlinburg in Nazi Germany, the “Quedlinburg Treasures” were found to be missing. This theft was perpetrated by US soldier Joe T. Meador. After his death, the manuscripts passed on to his brother and sister who attempted to sell them. Some manuscripts were purchased by West German entities, whereas the Church of Quedlinburg purchased the rest of the treasures pursuant to a settlement agreement with the Meador Heirs.

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