Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Battling Hitler's Ghost: Time for Legislation To Return Stolen Artworks in MoMA's Collection To Holocaust Victims?

Great new piece in the Clyde Fitch Report called Battling Hitler's Ghost on how U.S. museum have used statutes of limitations against heirs of Holocaust victims to hold onto artworks they know are stolen.

A lot is coming to light because of revelations in Germany regarding the art dealer Alfred Flechtheim.  MoMA claimed that Flechtheim's inventory had not been Aryanized when Hitler took power in 1933, but overwhelming evidence has emerged to give lie to the position that MoMA took to avoid returning artworks to the heirs of artist George Grosz.

Should Congress or state or city legislatures adopt legislation to force U.S. museums to return all of the stolen artworks to victims of Nazi persecution and their families?   According to the article, at least one scholar thinks so and has drafted a Nazi-Era Art Restitution Act ("NEAR Act").

Unfortunately, MoMA completely stonewalled the Grosz heirs and scholars seeking to determine how many works stolen from Alfred Flechtheim are in its collection.

More background on MoMA's Problematic Provenances here.

The New York Observer on MoMA's debt to Flechtheim here.

When can we expect MoMA's Trustees to issue an apology for MoMA's dark role in the Holocaust and in profiteering from the human misery in its wake?

When Congress enacted the Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998, U.S. museums lied to Congress by claiming that the state law remedies of replevin were sufficient to accomplish the return of stolen artworks to Holocaust victims and their heirs.   When will prosecutors start holding U.S. museum directors responsible for receiving and trafficking in stolen property and for deceiving the public?   Donations of stolen art to museums are currently subsidized by U.S. taxpayers and shielded from view by high-priced lawyers with no interest in doing the right thing.  It's time legislators got busy.

 Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2011 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Strange that you would put that much time and effort into something like a career in law only to abandon it upon arriving into the field. I hope that there are enough people that notice this and the ones that are capable of doing something do it. I will be aware.