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Nazi looted art/spoliations nazies

The taking of artworks from Jews by Nazi forces, during the period 1933-1945, and which occurred through open looting, acts of violence, confiscation, coerced sales or seemingly good faith transactions.

200 Paintings – Goudstikker Heirs and the Netherlands

200 Paintings – Goudstikker Heirs and the Netherlands

The art collection of Jacques Goudstikker was acquired by the Nazi commander Hermann Göring under suspicious circumstances during the Second World War. A large part of the collection was recovered by the Allied Forces after the war and it was subsequently returned to the Netherlands where it was labelled “Dutch national property”. The first part of these items was bought back by Goudstikker’s wife under a settlement agreement of 1952. The Dutch Government returned the second part – 200 paintings – to Marei Von Saher (the only surviving heir of Jacques Goudstikker) in 2006 based on a recommendation of the Dutch Restitution Committee.

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Adoration of the Magi – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs and Museum of Fine Arts Boston

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.

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Auschwitz Suitcase – Pierre Lévi Heirs and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oswiecim and Shoah Memorial Museum Paris

Auschwitz Suitcase – Pierre Lévi Heirs and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oswiecim and Shoah Memorial Museum Paris

After an initial unsuccessful attempt to negotiate the dispute regarding a suitcase between the heirs of the Holocaust victim Pierre Lévi and the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, the heirs decided to file a restitution claim against the Museum. The parties eventually settled with the help of the Shoah Memorial Museum in Paris and agreed to a long-term loan of the suitcase at the Shoah Memorial Museum.

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Blumengarten – Deutsch Heirs and Moderna Museet Stockholm

Blumengarten – Deutsch Heirs and Moderna Museet Stockholm

The heirs of Holocaust victims Otto Nathan Deutsch made several requests to the Moderna Museet Stockholm for the restitution of the painting “Blumengarten (Utenwarf)” (1917) by Emil Nolde

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Buste d’un jeune garçon – Héritiers Gentili di Giuseppe et Art Institute de Chicago

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.

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Buste de Diane – Pologne et Auktionshaus im Kinsky

Buste de Diane – Pologne et Auktionshaus im Kinsky

En juin 2015, le Ministère de la culture polonais apprend qu’un buste de Diane, spolié durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale et disparu depuis, va prochainement être vendu à Vienne par la maison de vente Auktionshaus im Kinsky. Le Ministère contacte alors la société Art Recovery International. Avec l’aide de cette dernière et de l’Ambassadeur ainsi que du Consul général de Pologne en Autriche, le buste est restitué à la Pologne le 18 décembre 2015.

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Christ and the Samaritan Woman – Gross-Eisenstädt Heirs and Museum de Fundatie

Christ and the Samaritan Woman – Gross-Eisenstädt Heirs and Museum de Fundatie

In 1933, Jewish businessman and art collector Richard Semmel was forced to leave Berlin and sell parts of his art collection for economic survival. Among the works was the Italian painting Christ and the Samaritan Woman, which was bought by Dirk Hannema, a Dutch museums director. Since 1964, the painting has been in the Museum de Fundatie, which Hannema founded and to which he donated the painting.

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Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rascal – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs v. Italy

Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rascal – Gentili di Giuseppe Heirs v. Italy

In 1941, the painting “Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rascal” by Girolamo Romanino was confiscated by Nazi-controlled French authorities from Federico Gentili di Giuseppe – an Italian of Jewish descent living in Paris – and then sold at auction.

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Cranach Diptych – Goudstikker Heirs and Norton Simon Museum

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.

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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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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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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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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, sur le fondement de l’Ordonnance de 1945 relative à la nullité des actes de spoliation, ordonne la restitution de la toile le 7 novembre 2017.

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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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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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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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