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News and Conferences

The latest news on restitution claims for cultural property and information on conferences organized by the Art-Law Centre and/or the Art-Law Foundation.

We Don’t Own that Modigliani

We Don’t Own that Modigliani

"The news that the billionaire New York art dealers David Nahmad and his son Helly were being sued for the return of a 1918 work by Modigliani allegedly looted by the Nazis made it to the British and American tabloid press in November. Now, in a legal twist, lawyers acting on behalf of the Nahmad family say that the case is unfounded because the Manhattan-based Helly Nahmad Gallery does not own the work. In court papers, the Nahmads’ legal team says instead that an organisation called the International Art Center (IAC) possesses the piece and that 'Helly Nahmad Gallery never owned the painting [which] is not in New York State… the plaintiff has sued the wrong defendant.' But lawyers for Philippe Maestracci, who is claiming Modigliani’s Seated Man with a Cane, contend that the 'International Art Center is an offshore entity used by the Nahmad defendants as an instrumentality to hold their interests in works, around 90% of which are held in an art storage facility at the free port of Geneva.' They add that the art centre’s holdings are estimated at between $3bn and $4bn." - Gareth Harris

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Settlement was found between the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Malevich heirs

Settlement was found between the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Malevich heirs

The Kunstmuseum Basel and the Government of the Canton of Basel-Stadt have come to an agreement with the heirs of the famous Russian artist Kazimir Malevich ending the heirs' claim to several works by Malevich, including the two gouaches "The Washing Woman" and "Landscape with Red Houses" as well as another approximately 60 works of art, according to the heirs' attorneys. Pursuant to their agreement, one of the requested works will be returned to the heirs ("Landscape with Red Houses") in honour of the heirs' claim and legacy of the artist, while the remaining works will stay at the Kunstmuseum Basel.

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Native American Basket Voluntarily Returned to the Yakama Nation Museum

Native American Basket Voluntarily Returned to the Yakama Nation Museum

Fascinated by the Yakama tribe, Paul Cary purchased a basket that was donated to the tribe in 1966 by an adopted member of the Yakama Nation. Research on the authenticity and provenance of the basket revealed that it was stolen from the Yakama Nation Museum between 2006 and 2007. Cary therefore returned the basket to the dealer in exchange for the paid price.

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Court Forfeits Cristo Portacroce After Italy Does Not File A Claim

Court Forfeits Cristo Portacroce After Italy Does Not File A Claim

"The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida has ordered the forfeiture of the painting, the Cristo Portacroce Trascinato Da Un Manigoldo. The court issued the default judgment once the previous possessors, Italy and its Brera Art Gallery, failed to make a claim for the return of the artwork."

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A detective’s work at the MFA

A detective’s work at the MFA

"Enter Victoria Reed, the MFA’s curator of provenance. Her job, which is almost as rare in the museum world as is the medallion, is to research works with questionable histories both in the collection and on the MFA’s shopping list. As a result, Reed’s other job is to break curators’ hearts." - Geoff Edgers

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Coin dealers alerted by INTERPOL over illegal sales of ancient Roman treasures

"Specialist dealers and collectors are being warned about the illegal sale of the so-called ‘Lava Treasure’ of ancient Roman gold coins and plates after a number of items were recovered from the open market. INTERPOL and French police are working to recover the ancient coins".

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A Roman head is voluntarily returned to Libya by an Italian Collector

A Roman head is voluntarily returned to Libya by an Italian Collector

When the Roman head was offered at auction by Christie's, an archeologist warned the auction house that it was stolen from Libya. After the sale, Christie's obtained additional information about the head and decided to cancel the sale. With the assistance of the auction house, the head was ultimately returned to Libya by the buyer, an italian collector, who was reimbused by Christie's.

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Interpol confirms Libyan treasure was looted

"Interpol has alerted police forces to the theft of the so-called “Benghazi Trea­s­ure”, which was stolen from a bank vault in the city on 25 May. The theft of thousands of antiquities went unpublicised at the time, some three months after rebel forces had seized Benghazi from troops loyal to the late Muammar Gaddafi." - Martin Bailey

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The Getty Museum is in a legal fight over Armenian Bible pages

The Getty Museum is in a legal fight over Armenian Bible pages

"The J. Paul Getty Trust failed Thursday to derail a lawsuit by the Armenian Orthodox Church that accuses the museum of harboring stolen illuminated medieval manuscripts — 755-year-old works that are masterpieces and, to the church, spiritually and historically sacred. After a brief hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Abraham Khan denied the Getty's motion to dismiss the claim. The museum's attorneys argued that the deadline for filing the suit had passed decades ago under the statute of limitations. But the judge said that's "not clear" and ordered four months of mediation, scheduling a March 2 resumption if the case isn't settled".

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Museums' Hidden Treasures

Museums' Hidden Treasures

"Like everywhere in the world, also in Turin each museum exhibits only a small, sometimes very small part of their collections. One fifth at the Egyptian Museum, less than a tenth at Palazzo Madama. And the example of the Met and the Hermitage, the idea makes its way to open to the public spaces and underground deposits".

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The Turkish Prime Minister requests the return of allegedly stolen tiles from France

The Turkish Prime Minister requests the return of allegedly stolen tiles from France

"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan officially requested that a set of Ottoman-era tiles, stolen by France in the 1880s and presently in the collections of various French museums, be returned to Turkey by French authorities."

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Skulls of Colonial Victims Returned to Namibia

Skulls of Colonial Victims Returned to Namibia

"Germany revisits the dark chapter of its brief colonial history this week with the return of 20 skulls belonging to genocide victims in a former colony. A Namibian delegation is in Berlin to take home the remains of those killed more than a century ago. This could be just the beginning of such reconciliations."

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