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
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Battling Hitler's Ghost: Time for Legislation To Return Stolen Artworks in MoMA's Collection To Holocaust Victims?
Labels: holocaust denial, holocaust victims redress act of 1998, moma, nazi art looting, replevin, restitution, statute of limitations
Partner in Manhattan law firm Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP in New York City litigating in federal and state courts and arbitrations. Experienced trial and appellate practitioner. Author: Copyright Litigation Handbook (Thomson Reuters 2015-2016). The New York Law Journal called it "an indispensable guide". Serve on the Board of Directors of the Federal Bar Association, served as Chair of the Circuit Vice Presidents, Vice President for the Second Circuit and General Counsel. Member Board of Governors, National Arts Club. President, Network of Bar Leaders (2013-2014). Attorney advertising disclaimer - prior results do not guarantee success. The statements and opinions voiced here are my own and not of my law firm.