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

Art law experts frustrated over response to latest restitution claim

“Disingenuous” and “depressing” is how art law experts are describing the response of Bavarian authorities to the latest art restitution claim by the heirs of a Jewish family who fled Nazi persecution during World War II.

The experts, which include art lawyers Christopher Marinello of the Art Recovery Group in London and Nicholas O’Donnell, shared their frustrations over the official response to the claim with artnet News. Continue reading

Francois Hollande plans to protect artefacts looted by ISIS

Innovative legal measures to secure the fate of artworks and artefacts in the Middle East were announced by French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday (17th November),  Le Point magazine reports.

Speaking at the 70th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, President Hollande unveiled plans to crack down on illicit trafficking by ISIS. Continue reading

Has a Nazi treasure train been discovered?

Two men have claimed that they have discovered a Nazi-era train packed with gold, diamonds, and other gems in Poland.

The Walbrzych district council received a letter from a law firm in Wroclaw informing them that a Polish and a German man had found the treasure train that has become the stuff of local legend. They say they believe it had departed in 1944 to Walbrzych, but never arrived.  Continue reading