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State immunity/immunité des Etats

14 Artworks – Malewicz Heirs and City of Amsterdam

14 Artworks – Malewicz Heirs and City of Amsterdam

In 2003, 14 artworks 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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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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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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Die Grosse Seestrasse in Wannsee – X. v. Switzerland

Die Grosse Seestrasse in Wannsee – X. v. Switzerland

The painting “Die Grosse Seestrasse in Wannsee” was bought in 1948 by François de Diesbach. After de Diesbach’s death, the painting was forgotten within the Swiss embassy. When the Swiss embassy decided to donate the painting to the Liebermann Villa, a distant relative of de Diesbach seized a Swiss court and claimed ownership over the painting. The High Court of the Canton of Bern ultimately held that the Swiss Confederation had acquired ownership over the painting.

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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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Mercedes Shipwreck – Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. v. Unidentified Shipwrecked Vessel

In 2007, Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. found a shipwreck of the Spanish Royal Navy Frigate Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, loaded with many tonnes of coins. Odyssey filed an in rem action in the United States federal court to get legal title to the shipwreck and the coins, but the court found that they did not have the jurisdiction to decide the case according to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. As a result, the Mercedes and its cargo were given over to the custody of Spain.

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Portrait of Greta Moll – Moll Heirs v. National Gallery of London

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.

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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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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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