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Spoils of war/butin de guerre

14 Artworks – Malewicz Heirs and City of Amsterdam

14 Artworks – Malewicz Heirs and City of Amsterdam

In 2003, 14 works of art by the Russian artist Kazimir Malewicz were exported to the United States by the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam to be part of a temporary exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Menil Collection in Houston. Shortly before the end of the loans, the heirs of Malewicz brought an action against the City of Amsterdam seeking to recover the value of the artworks or, in the alternative, the artworks themselves.

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Ancient Manuscripts and Globe - Saint Gall and Zurich

Ancient Manuscripts and Globe - Saint Gall and Zurich

Thanks to the Swiss Confederation who acted as a mediator, the dispute between the Cantons of Zurich and Saint-Gall over cultural objects displaced during the religious wars of 1712 was ultimately settled in 2006 by an inventive agreement.

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Baldin Collection – Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany and State Hermitage Museum Russia

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.

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Bath of Bathsheba – Italy and Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

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.

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Beneventan Missal – Metropolitan Chapter of the Cathedral City of Benevento and British Library

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.

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Chasuble – Paraguay et Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel et François Machon

Chasuble – Paraguay et Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel et François Machon

En 1889, le Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel (MEN) reçoit en don une chasuble probablement spoliée au Paraguay pendant la guerre de la Triple Alliance (1864-1870). En 1926, le médecin neuchâtelois François Machon, alors Consul du Paraguay à Lausanne, propose au MEN le retour de la chasuble en échange du don de sa collection ethnographique, ce que le MEN accepte.

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Cypriot Icon – Boy George and the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus

Cypriot Icon – Boy George and the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus

When the representative of the Greek Orthodox church of Cyprus, Bishop Porfyrios, watched a television interview with the British singer, Boy George, he discovered that an 18th century Cypriot icon was hanging in the singer’s living room. The artefact depicting Jesus Christ Pantokrator was displayed in the Cypriot Church of St. Charalambos, before it was allegedly looted during the Turkish invasion of 1974. At the request of the Bishop, Boy George immediately agreed to return the artefact and received a gift in return.

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Manuscrits Coréens – France et Corée du Sud

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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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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Obélisque d’Axoum – Italie et Ethiopie

Obélisque d’Axoum – Italie et Ethiopie

En 1937, Mussolini ordonne l’enlèvement de l’obélisque d’Axoum et son transport en Italie. Il faudra attendre 2007 pour que l’obélisque retrouve le site d’Axoum.

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Quedlinburg Treasures – Quedlinburg Church and Meador Heirs

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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Sammlung 101 - City of Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen and Russia

Sammlung 101 - City of Bremen, Kunsthalle Bremen and Russia

In the 1990s, Russia and the City of Bremen began to negotiate for the return of “Sammlung 101”, a collection of 101 drawings. The drawings were transferred from the Kunsthalle Bremen (Bremen Art Museum) to Russia in the aftermath of the Second World War by a Soviet soldier.

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Two Bronze Animal Heads – China and Pierre Bergé

Two Bronze Animal Heads – China and Pierre Bergé

In February of 2009, Christie’s offered at auction two 18th-century bronze fountainheads – a rabbit and a rat – owned by the estate of Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime-partner Pierre Bergé. Stolen from the Old Summer Palace by British and French forces during the Second Opium War in 1860, the two heads’ sale provoked controversial international debate, inspiring a Chinese national to bid upon the bronzes at auction and refuse payment. In June of 2013, François-Henri Pinault, owner of Christie’s, returned to China the fountainheads in an effort to strengthen diplomatic and trade relations between France and China.

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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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