Stolen Art Recovery
During World War II, the German and Russian armies looted art and cultural property across Europe. Even prior to the war, the Nazi regime oversaw the systematic transfer and sale of artwork and other collectibles sold by Germany's Jewish citizens under duress. In 1998 the Washington Conference on Holocaust Looted Assets confirmed the commitment of many of the world's governments to achieve a just and fair solution for the heirs of pre-War owners of art that was confiscated by the Nazis and not subsequently restituted. This commitment is embodied in a document commonly known as the "Washington Principles."
State-owned museums also agreed to attempt to identify artworks with a Nazi era provenance. While the German government has called on its state-owned museums to check their collections in accordance with the Washington Principles, it has done little to help fund such research. Museums themselves have also been reluctant to hand over artwork in their collections to descendants of Nazi victims. This reticence to comply with the Washington Principles is often justified by claims that heirs to looted art often resell the artworks at auction and are not interested in the art itself. According to Germany's weekly newspaper Die Zeit, the director of Dresden's State Art Collection complained in 2006 that "lost art is currently being sought out and . . . it's only about speculation and money." This highlights a growing trend of governments and museums paying lip service to art restitution while opposing the return of actual works of art to the heirs of Nazism's victims.
As part of its long-standing efforts on behalf of victims of Nazi persecution, Osen LLC is involved in the recovery of looted art and cultural property in Europe. For more information, click here.