Oct 22, 2007

Unsuccessful Nazi Spoliation Claim


From the LA Times last week, Suzanne Muchnic reports that a federal judge has dismissed a claim against Norton Simon over this work and another by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

A Los Angeles federal judge has dismissed a case that jeopardized the Norton Simon Museum's ownership of a nearly 500-year-old pair of paintings of Adam and Eve by German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The action halts dueling lawsuits filed by the museum and Marei von Saher of Connecticut, the heir of a Jewish art dealer who lost the artworks to the Nazis in World War II. The museum filed a motion to dismiss the case, and a hearing was to be held Monday. But Judge John F. Walker granted the motion Thursday afternoon. He did not immediately disclose his reasons for doing so.

The museum's attorney, Luis Li of Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, declined to comment on the ruling. Von Saher's attorney, Lawrence M. Kaye of the New York firm Herrick, Feinstein, could not be reached for comment.

Cranach's monumental paintings of life-size nudes in the Garden of Eden have been a highlight of Simon's collection since 1971, when the Los Angeles industrialist and collector bought them from George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff, an heir of a noble Russian family thought to have lost the paintings to the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. But the Cranachs have a complicated history, at issue in the legal battle.

Von Saher's Dutch father-in-law, Jacques Goudstikker, bought the paintings in a 1931 auction in Berlin, billed as "Stroganoff Collection Leningrad" and staged to raise funds for Stalin's impoverished government. "Adam" and "Eve" remained in his gallery in Amsterdam until 1940, when the Nazis took over his business. Goudstikker died in a shipboard accident while fleeing the Germans, but his wife, Desiree, and son, Edward, survived, as did a list of artworks left behind.

After the war, Desiree Goudstikker settled with the Dutch government, regaining part of her husband's inventory. She did not claim another group of artworks, including the Cranachs, because she would have had to return payment received from the Germans. That settlement made it possible for Stroganoff-Scherbatoff to pursue his claim. The Dutch transferred the paintings to him in 1966.

The matter might have rested there, but as Holocaust restitution escalated, the Dutch reconsidered claims against Nazi loot, and scholars questioned long-accepted accounts of the Cranachs' Russian history.

There is no doubt that the paintings were sold in the Stroganoff sale, but some researchers think they were among confiscated goods from other collections, included in the auction to give the other items a "noble" provenance and disguise that they actually were being sold by the government.

No evidence that the paintings did or did not belong to the Stroganoffs has been found, but a document has come to light stating that they were in a church and other buildings in Kiev, the capital of what is now Ukraine, a few years before the auction. No one knows how they got there.

Von Saher, the widow of the Goudstikkers' son, has spent the last nine years trying to retrieve artworks owned by her husband's parents.

Last year, the Dutch government gave her 202 works that had been housed in Dutch museums, stating that the Goudstikker case had been handled properly in legal terms but that it had been reconsidered on moral grounds.

She learned that the Cranachs were at the Simon museum in 2000, and her attorney contacted the museum the following year.

Throughout the lengthy period of mediation and legal proceedings, Von Saher has contended that the Simon cannot have title to the paintings because they are stolen goods. The museum has argued that it is the rightful owner of the Cranachs, whether they belonged to the Stroganoffs or not, because the family's heir acquired good title to them under Dutch law, and in any event, California's three-year statute of limitations to challenge the Simon's purchase has long since passed.

In its motion to dismiss the case, the Simon argued that a California law extending the statute of limitations for heirs of Holocaust victims is unconstitutional because it wrongfully empowers the state to remedy war injuries, which is a duty of the federal government.

I haven't had a chance to track down the actual judgment. I'm back in the States at the moment, preparing myself for the AALS hiring conference in Washington D.C. later this week. There appears to be an error in Muchnic's understanding of the relevant California limitations rules. Though the limit is indeed three years, that period does not begin to start running until the claimant discovers, or by exercising reasonable efforts should have discovered the present owner of the object. Since the work has been on display since 1971, a dismissal of the claim was a likely result.

But in any event, California has extended the time with which claimants can bring these kinds of claims for nazi spoliated artworks until 2010 I believe, though I'd have to check that. I've not read anything questioning the constitutionality of that, though it appears to be an interesting question.
Post a Comment

Labels

"Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth" (17) 1954 Hague Convention (12) 1972 World Heritage Convention (1) Aboriginal Heritage (1) Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA) (2) act of state doctrine (1) Admiralty Law (11) Afghanistan (10) Africa (4) Albright-Knox Gallery (3) Aleppo (2) Alfred Stieglitz (2) Alternative Dispute Resolution (1) Angkor (1) Anti-Seizure Legislation (1) antiquites (3) antiquities (337) Antiquities Act 1906 (2) Antiquities leasing (10) antiquities looting (4) antiquities smuggling (3) antiquities theft (6) ARCA (8) ARCA Annual Conference (10) ARCA MA Program (6) Archaeological Resources Protection Act (5) Archival Recovery Team (ART) (3) Archives (1) Armed Conflict (22) Arrests (79) Art and Cultural Heritage Law (1) Art Beat Constables (9) Art Crime Statistics (1) art fraud (9) art history (1) Art Institute Chicago (3) art law (1) Art Loans (9) Art Loss Register (19) Art Market (10) Art Theft (262) Artist Resale Right (1) arts funding (1) Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) (8) Athens (3) Auction (99) austerity (2) Australia (7) Austria (3) Authentication (3) Babylon (3) Banksy (1) Big Bend National Park (1) bilateral agreements (2) Black Hills (1) Bolton Forgers (4) Book Theft (3) Brazil (5) British Museum (13) Bronze (5) Bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth (1) Brueghel (1) Bruno Lohse (3) Brussels (1) Bührle Collection Theft (4) Bulgaria (4) Burke and Wills (2) Burns Mummies (1) Byzantine Artifacts (4) Cairo (1) Cairo art theft (2) California Raids (6) Caligula (1) Cambodia (11) Camille Pissarro (7) Carabinieri (6) Caravaggio (1) catalogue raisonné (1) Cellini Salt Cellar (2) Central Park (1) Cerveteri (1) Chance Finds (3) Charles Goldie (1) Chihuly Glass (1) China (15) Christie's (14) Church Thefts (6) Civil War (2) Claude Monet (4) Claudia Seger-Thomschitz (3) Cleveland Bronze Apollo (2) Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) (5) Coins (7) Colonial Art (1) Columbia (1) Conferences (7) Conservation (1) Conventions (1) Copyright (5) Corot (1) Corrections (1) cosmpoplitanism (4) Costa Rica (2) CPIA (10) criminal charges (5) criminology (1) Crystal Bridges Museum (5) Cultral Property Advisory Committee (9) Cultural First Aid (2) cultural heritage (6) cultural heritage careers (2) Cultural Heritage Moot Court Competition (2) Cultural heritage movement (1) cultural justice (3) cultural policy (18) cultural property (4) Cultural Resource Management (1) cultural security (1) culture funding (1) curatorial theft (2) Cycladic Figurines (1) Cyprus (9) Dahshour (1) Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) (2) Database (5) Databases (4) DCMS (2) Deaccessioning (24) Dead Sea Scrolls (1) Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 (4) Declaratory Suits (4) Demand and Refusal (2) Design and Artists Copyright Society (1) Detroit Institute of Art (1) development (1) Dick Ellis (2) Diplomatic Bags (1) Doctrine of Discovery (3) Donald Trump (3) Donny George Youkhanna (2) Dr. No (6) Droite de Suite (2) Dubai (1) due diligence (5) eBay (5) Economics (1) Ecuador (1) Edgar Degas (2) Edinburgh (1) Edoardo Almagia (1) Edvard Munch (2) Egon Schiele (4) Egypt (55) El-Hibeh (2) Elgin Marbles (5) empirical studies (1) England (4) environmental justice (4) Environmental law (2) Erik Nemeth (1) Etruscans (2) Euphronios Krater (4) European Court of Human Rights (1) Export Restrictions (19) Fakes (6) FBI (16) FBI Art Crime Team (16) Festivus (1) Fifth Circuit (1) fire (1) Fisk University (3) Footnotes (59) force multiplier (1) Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) (6) forfeiture (13) Forgery (27) fossils (2) Four Corners Antiquities Investigation (11) fractional ownership (2) Francavilla Marittima (1) France (30) Francesco Rutelli (15) Frans van Mieris (2) Frederick Schultz (3) freedman's town (2) Gaza (1) George Grosz (1) Georgia (1) Georgia O'Keeffe (2) Germanicus (2) Germany (16) Getty (1) Ghent Altarpiece (1) Giacomo Medici (6) Gianfranco Becchina (1) Golf (3) good faith (3) Goya (3) Goya theft (4) graffiti (1) Greece (38) Grosz (1) Henri Matisse (1) Henry Moore (1) Heritage at Risk (1) heritage crime (1) Heritage Crime in Art (1) Hermitage (2) High Court in London (4) historic documents (1) Historic Landmark (1) historic preservation (1) historic weapons (1) Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act (2) Hopi (1) House of Commons Illicit Trade Advisory Panel (ITAP) (1) Houston (2) Howard Spiegler (2) Human Remains (5) Human Rights (1) Hungary (1) Identification (1) illicit excavation (1) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (16) Immunity (6) Immunity from Seizure Act (ISA) (3) import restrictions (3) in the media (7) Indemnity (1) Indianapolis Museum of Art (5) indictments (5) Indigenous Rights (2) Indonesia (1) injunctions (1) Insider Theft (2) Institute d'Egypte (1) Institute of Art and Law (1) Institutional theft (1) Intellectual Property (4) Intentional Destruction (6) International Criminal Court (ICC) (1) International Journal of Cultural Property (1) internationalism (4) INTERPOL (1) Interview (2) Interviews (2) Iran (8) Iran v. Barakat Galleries Ltd. (6) Iran v. Berend (3) Iraq (46) Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum (7) Islamic art (2) Israel (4) Istanbul (2) Italian Art Squad (5) Italian Culture Ministry (6) Italy (122) Jacques Goudstikker (4) James Ossuary (1) Jan Breugel the elder (2) Jan van Eyck (1) Japan (3) Jeanneret v. Vichy (1) Jeff Tweedy (1) Jenack v. Rabizadeh (1) JMW Turner (2) John Constable (1) Jonah Marbles (1) Jonathan Tokeley-Parry (1) Jordan (2) Joseph Farquharson (2) Journal Articles (1) Journal of Art Crime (1) Ka-Nefer-Nefer (9) Kansas (2) Kansas City (1) Kazimir Malevich (3) Kenya (1) Kingsland (3) Klimt (3) Koh Ker (6) Konowaloff v. Metropolitan Museum of Art (1) Kunsthal Museum Theft (2) La Dea Di Morgantina (6) Lawrence Kaye (1) Lebanon (1) Leonardo Da Vinci (9) Leopold Museum (1) Lewis Chessmen (5) lex originis (3) lex situs (5) Libya (2) Lincoln's Inn theft (1) Lithographs (1) loans (5) London (6) London Art and Antiques Unit (7) London Metropolitan Police (2) loot (1) looting (30) Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (2) Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (1) LS Lowry (3) Lucas Cranach (1) Lucas Cranach the Elder (3) Lucian Freud (1) Macedonia (1) Machu Picchu (12) Madonna of the Yarnwinder (recovery) (9) Mali (4) Malta (1) Manchester (2) manuscript (1) Maori (2) maps (2) Marc Chagall (1) Marion True (25) Mark Landis (1) market overt (1) Mausoleum at Helicarnassus (1) Max Stern (3) Maxwell Anderson (3) metal detecting (6) Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) (29) Mexico (9) Meyer de Haan (1) MFA Boston (6) Michael Brand (3) Michael C. Carlos Museum (1) Michael Steinhardt (2) Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities (MEGA) (1) Minneapolis Institue of Arts (MIA) (1) Moctezuma's Headdress (1) Modigliani (2) MoMA (4) Mondrian (1) Monet (3) Montreal Museum of Fine Art (2) Monument Men (5) Monuments Men (1) Moral Rights (3) Morgantina (2) Morgantina Aphrodite (9) Morgantina Treasure (1) Moscow (2) Musée d'Art Moderne theft (1) Museum Acquisitions (1) Museum Governance (1) Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (1) Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (6) museum security (2) museum theft (2) Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) (1) Music (2) Myth (1) Napoleon III (1) National Academy (2) National Archaeological Museum in Naples (1) National Archives (3) National Gallery (Washington) (1) National Historic Preservation Act (2) National Stolen Property Act (8) nations of origin (5) Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (8) Native Americans (17) native cultures (2) Nazi Spoliation (74) Neglect (1) Neil Brodie (1) Nelson-Atkins' Bloch Building (1) Netherlands (10) New Acropolis Museum (3) New Orleans (4) New York (6) New Zealand (7) Nigeria (1) nighthawking (3) Noah Charney (1) Norbert Schimmel (1) Norman Palmer (1) Norman Rockwell (2) Norway (4) NSPA (1) Nuclear Analytical Techniques (1) Odyssey Marine Exploration (23) Olympics (2) Omaha Nebraska (1) Organized Crime (1) Orphaned Works (2) Oskar Kokoschka (2) Oslo (1) Pablo Picasso (16) Pakistan (2) Palestine (3) Panama (1) Paolo Ferri (2) Paris (10) partage (1) Parthenon Marbles (17) Patents (1) Patty Gerstenblith (1) Paul Bator (2) Paul Cezanne (5) Paul Gauguin (4) Pazardzhik Byzantine Silver Hoard (1) Penn Museum (1) Pentagon (1) Pere Lachaise (1) Persepolis (3) Peru (24) Peru Headdress (1) Peter Watson (1) Philadelphia (7) Phillipines (1) Picasso (9) Pierre Le Guennec (1) Pierre Valentin (1) piracy (1) Pollock (1) Pompeii (3) Popular Culture (1) Portable Antiquities Scheme (25) Portrait of Wally (11) Poussin (1) pre-Columbian antiquities (2) pre-emptive archaeology (1) Prince Claus Fund (1) Princeton (4) Private Collectors (2) Private International Law (5) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (UK) (1) Prosecutions (7) provenance (13) Prussia (1) Public Art Theft (5) Public Trust (1) Publications (2) Quran (1) Radio (2) Ransom (2) realkulturpolitik (1) recovery (45) Rembrandt (2) Rene Magritte (2) Renoir (2) Renvoi (3) repatriation (121) Restitution (40) reward (1) Rhodes (1) Robert Hecht (8) Robin Symes (1) Rodin (2) Roger Atwood (1) Roman Objects (2) Rome (3) Rothko (1) Royal Academy (1) Rubens (3) Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran (2) Russia (11) Sale of "The Cello Player" (1) Sale of the "Gross Clinic" (11) Sale of the Stieglitz Collection (4) Salvage (1) Sao Paulo (2) Sao Paulo Museum of Art (3) Scheduled Ancient Monuments (1) Scholarship - Articles and Essays (57) Scholarship - Book Reviews (3) Scholarship - Books (12) Scholarship - Case Notes (1) Scholarship - Events and Conferences (55) Scholarship - Journal Articles (12) Scholarship - Student Papers (16) Scotland (7) Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiques Squad (1) scrap metal (1) Sculpture (2) security (4) seizure (16) Selling stolen art (1) seminars (1) semiotics (1) Sentencing (2) Serbia (1) settlement (1) Sevso Treasure (6) Shelby White (3) shipwreck (1) Sicily (4) Simon Mackenzie (2) Sisley (4) Slovakia (1) Smithsonian (4) Solomon R. Guggenheim (1) Sonic Fingerprints (1) Sotheby's (13) Sotheby's Paris (1) South Africa (1) South America (1) Spain (21) Spoliation (2) Spoliation Advisory Panel (8) St. Louis Art Museum (8) St. Ninian's Isle Treasure (3) Stair Gallery (2) State Department (2) Statue of a Victorious Youth (1) statute of frauds (1) Statutes of Limitations (10) Stephane Breitwieser (1) Stephen Colbert (1) Steven Spielberg (1) stewardship (2) Stolen Art (11) Stone Age (1) street art (1) study collections (1) Summer Palace Bronzes (7) Sweden (2) Switzerland (13) Syria (7) Taliban (1) Tennessee (3) The Art Fund (1) The Bowers Museum (1) The Discovery Rule (4) the fourth ward (1) The Getty (57) The Gross Clinic (1) The Guggenheim (2) The Holocauset (stolen art) restitution bill (2) the Louvre (2) The Menil (4) The National Gallery (1) The National Gallery (London) (2) the Pirate Party (1) The Scream (1) theft (2) Thomas Eakins (9) Thomas Jefferson (1) Timbuktu (2) Titian (1) Toledo Museum of Art (4) tombaroli (2) tourism (1) transparency (1) Traprain Law (1) Traveling Exhibitions (2) Treasure Act (4) treasure trove (3) Turkey (11) UCC (1) Ukraine (2) UN (2) Underground Salt Museum (1) Underwater Cultural Heritage (32) Underwater Sites - "Black Swan" (3) Underwater Sites - "Blue Baron" (1) Underwater Sites - HMS Victory (3) UNESCO (23) UNESCO Convention (24) UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (9) UNIDROIT Convention (2) United Kingdom (24) United States (12) University College London (1) University of Chicago (1) University of Guelph (1) University of Virginia (3) urban development (1) Van Gogh (7) Vandalism (4) Vatican (1) Vermeer (2) Victoria And Albert Museum (3) Vigango (3) viking (1) Villa Giulia (3) Vineberg v. Bissonnette (4) Visual Artists Rights Act (2) voluntary returns (1) Von Saher v. Norton Simon Museum of Art at Pasadena (3) Watts Towers (1) Waverley Criteria (10) Week in Review (3) West Bank (1) wikiloot (1) Wilco (1) William S. Burroughs (1) Windsor Antiquities Indictment (1) World Heritage Sites (1) World War II (11) Yale University (13) year in review (2) Zahi Hawass (9)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...