France Will Return Nazi-era Art

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France appears to have cracked the tough legal wall keeping families from repossessing art which Nazis stole or forced owners into selling during World War II.

242hlb20 HitlerLondon’s The Guardian reports:

Story continues below.



France has promised to return seven paintings taken from their Jewish owners during the second world war, part of efforts to give back hundreds of looted art that hangs in the Louvre and other museums.

The works were stolen or sold under duress up to seven decades ago as their owners fled Nazi-occupied Europe. All seven were destined for display in the art gallery Adolf Hitler planned to build in his birthplace of Linz, Austria, according to a catalogue for the proposed museum…

…Six of the paintings – among them works by Alessandro Longhi, Sebastiano Ricci and Gaspare Diziani – were owned by Richard Neumann, an Austrian Jew whose ticket out of France was his art collection, which he sold off at a fraction of its value.

CFR has followed the Nazi-era art issue, reporting last July that, in the U.S., Congress and states have basically ignored the museums-versus-claimants struggle. Earlier this month, we revealed how, before a German court, Michael Hulton has been attempting to win back some of his late grand-uncle Alfred Flechtheim‘s former art possessions. In late January, Hulton had urged the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to relinquish paintings by Klee and Juan Gris.

A major hindrance in many of the cases has been the statute of limitations, the length of time since the world war foiling plaintiffs’ efforts. But the French action last week adds a new twist to the museums-families conflicts.

You can read more about France’s action here. See the two CFR stories here and here.