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Judicial claim/action en justice

Sevso Treasure – Lebanon et al. v. Marquess of Northampton

Sevso Treasure – Lebanon et al. v. Marquess of Northampton

The Sevso Treasure was consigned at Sotheby’s by the Marquess of Northampton in 1989. Sotheby’s released a press statement which said that the treasure would not be sold until all claims against it had been dealt with. Hungary bought seven pieces of the treasure in 2014, and a further seven pieces in 2017.

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Six Klimt paintings – Maria Altmann and Austria

Six Klimt paintings – Maria Altmann and Austria

Maria Altmann brought suit in the United States against the Republic of Austria and the Austrian National Gallery to recover six paintings by Gustav Klimt that the Nazis took during the Second World War from her Jewish relatives, Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer. Although the Supreme Court of the United States lifted Austria’s jurisdictional immunity, the disputants reached an agreement to end the litigation and submit the dispute to arbitration in Austria. The arbitration panel ruled that Austria was obliged to return five of the Klimt’s masterpieces to Maria Altmann.

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Stèles historiques – Galerie d’art c. Italie

Stèles historiques – Galerie d’art c. Italie

En 1980, des stèles historiques sont remises par la Suisse à l’Italie dans le cadre d’une procédure pénale ouverte en Italie. Une Galerie d’art suisse introduit une action en Suisse pour récupérer les stèles historiques. L’Italie se prévaut de son immunité de juridiction.

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Sumpflegende – Héritiers Lissitzky-Küppers et Ville de Munich

Sumpflegende – Héritiers Lissitzky-Küppers et Ville de Munich

Après 25 ans de litige juridique et de négociation, le sort de « Sumpflegende », un tableau de Paul Klee prêté à une galerie allemande en 1926 puis confisqué par les Nazis au titre d’art « dégénéré », est scellé. En juillet 2017, les héritiers de Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, laquelle avait prêté le tableau, concluent un accord avec la Ville de Munich et une fondation privée. L’œuvre reste exposée dans un musée munichois et les héritiers Lissitzky-Küppers sont indemnisés.

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The Actor – Leffmann Heir v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Actor – Leffmann Heir v. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Before the Second World War, Paul and Alice Leffmann, a couple of German Jews, fled Germany to Italy and then to Brazil. To be able to leave Europe, they sold the painting “The Actor” by Picasso to three art dealers for a fraction of its market value. In 1939, one of the dealers sold the painting to Thelma Foy. Several years later, Thelma Foy donated the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York. In the 2010s, the great-grandniece of Paul and Alice Leffmanns sued the MET to retrieve the painting.

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The Night Café Painting – Morozov Heirs v. Yale University

The Night Café Painting – Morozov Heirs v. Yale University

In 1908, Ivan Morozov, a Russian art collector, purchased Van Gogh’s painting “The Night Café”. The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution led to the nationalization of private property, and as such Morozov’s art collection was confiscated and subsequently sold.

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Three Grosz Paintings – Grosz Heirs v. Museum of Modern Art

Three Grosz Paintings – Grosz Heirs v. Museum of Modern Art

In April of 2009, after a decade-long search for artworks lost during Nazi persecution, George Grosz’s legal heirs brought action against the Museum of Modern Art, seeking declaration of title and replevin as to three of the artist’s paintings in the Museum’s possession, and requesting damages for their unlawful conversion. Holding that the action was time-barred by the statute of limitations, the District Court granted the museum’s motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York affirmed the order on appeal, and the United States Supreme Court denied the Heirs’ writ of certiorari.

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Two Dürer Paintings – Kunstsammlungen Zu Weimar v. Elicofon

Two Dürer Paintings – Kunstsammlungen Zu Weimar v. Elicofon

In 1945, two portraits by Albrecht Dürer were stolen from the collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar. Stored for safekeeping in the Schwarburg Castle during the Second World War, the paintings disappeared during the time that American troops occupied the Castle.

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Two Schiele Paintings – Grunbaum Heirs v. Richard Nagy

Two Schiele Paintings – Grunbaum Heirs v. Richard Nagy

In 1938, the Nazis expropriated the art collection of Fritz Grunbaum while he was detained in Dachau concentration camp. In 2016, the Grunbaum heirs filed suit against Richard Nagy, the art dealer in possession of two of the paintings by Schiele that formed part of Fritz Grunbaum’s collection (“Woman in a Black Pinafore” and “Woman Hiding Her Face”). Eventually, the New York’s Supreme Court directed Nagy to return the artworks to the Grunbaum heirs.

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Two Souza paintings – Kurtha v. Marks

Two Souza paintings – Kurtha v. Marks

In 1982, Dr Aziz Kurtha purchased two paintings from the Indian artist Francis Souza. They were stolen years later and their ownership changed a number of times, before Michael Marks purchased them on 10 January 2006.

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Venus of Cyrene – Italy and Libya

Venus of Cyrene – Italy and Libya

In 1913, Italian soldiers deployed at Cyrene, Libya, found a headless marble sculpture, commonly known today as the “Venus of Cyrene”. In 1915, the statue was shipped to Italy, where it was placed on display in the Museo Nazionale delle Terme of Rome.

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Victorious Youth – Italy v. J. Paul Getty Museum

Victorious Youth – Italy v. J. Paul Getty Museum

The “Victorious Youth” – a life-size bronze statue created sometime between the 4th and 2nd century BC – is at the centre of an ongoing dispute between Italy and the J. Paul Getty Museum. This statue was discovered in 1964, caught up in the nets of a fishing boat working out of the port of Fano on the Adriatic coast of Italy.

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View of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – Mauthner Heirs v. Switzerland

View of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – Mauthner Heirs v. Switzerland

Andrew Orkin sued the Swiss Confederation, the Oskar Reinhart Foundation and the Oskar Reinhart Collection in the United States in order to recover possession of the drawing “View of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer”. Orkin alleged that his great-grandmother, Margarethe Mauthner, sold the painting under duress during the Nazi era.

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View of the Asylum and Chapel at St. Rémy – Mauthner Heirs v. Elizabeth Taylor

View of the Asylum and Chapel at St. Rémy – Mauthner Heirs v. Elizabeth Taylor

In 2007, the court battle over the van Gogh painting “View of the Asylum and Chapel at St. Rémy” came to an end when the United States Supreme Court denied a writ of certiorari, thereby finalising the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pasadina.

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