German research fund to uncover stolen art in private collections

The German government has announced a €3.4 million (£2.95 million) national fund to subsidise provenance research into privately-owned artworks, which may have been looted during World War II. The decision marks a departure from previous arrangements, which were used to fund research into works held by German museums and libraries. It was prompted by the 2013 discovery of the Gurlitt art trove of which five works have been identified as looted or sold under duress. A further 153 works in the hoard are suspected of being stolen.   Continue reading

Looted Libyan artefacts seized in Europe

Archaeologists have reported that antiquities illegally excavated in Libya are turning up for sale in the showrooms of London, Paris and Bern.

According to a senior Libyan archaeologist, the country is struggling to control a spate of ‘random digging’ at ancient sites including the Greek and Roman city of Cyrene. Ramadan Shebani told The Art Newspaper that looters are exploiting the political vacuum created by the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 to engage in illegal excavations.  Continue reading

Nazi-looted painting returned to rightful owners and then purchased back

New York’s Neue Galerie announced on Tuesday (27 September) that it had returned a painting looted by the Nazis to its rightful owners before purchasing it back from them at its current fair market value.

The Museum agreed to return Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s ‘Nude’ (1914) to the heirs of a Jewish shoe manufacturer and Expressionist art collector after they approached the Museum a little over a year ago with a potential restitution claim. The repurchase price has not been revealed but other works by Schmidt-Rottluff’s have commanded over US$1million (approximately £768,357) in recent times.  Continue reading