We are actively working with individuals and families in both the U.S. and other countries who have significant restitution claims, generally stemming from seizures by the Nazis. Countless works of art were wrongfully looted during the period of World War II. Through our contacts with researchers and experts around the world, we are able to help the rightful owners and their families to locate and recover their property.
We work to solve the three key questions to making a restitution claim:
- What works of art were taken? Working together with experts in art history, we have reviewed and are familiar with key archives in the U.S., Germany, France, U.K., and other countries to assist in determining what works of art were owned by a family prior to the war, and what works of art were looted during the war. Often the descriptions of art that was seized are general (for example, “portrait of a woman”); we can work with you to seek archival records in the U.S. and internationally in an attempt to clarify what was looted, and can review the provenance of works of art that might fit a general description, in order to try and narrow the search to particular works whose history is in question. According to the American Association of Museums guidelines, any works of art that underwent a change of ownership between 1932 and 1946, and that were reasonably thought to have been in Continental Europe during that time, are suspected of being looted art. If you believe your family had artwork that was sold under duress during this period, or otherwise looted during or after the war, contact us to see if we can assist in your search for additional records
- Who are the Heirs? We can also assist in mobilizing the resources needed to search for family members who might be entitled to restitution, and work with counsel in other countries to determine inheritance laws in that country. For example, in some instances a restitution claim should be brought by legal heirs to an individual whose property was taken; in other countries the claim must be asserted instead by a person’s “descendants,” i.e., children. We can assist in determining who can present a restitution claim.
- Where is the artwork now? Once the proper heirs have been determined, and the identity of looted works of art established, we work to locate where the artwork is today. Some works of art are relatively easy to find, as they are sitting in museums or come up for auction. Most are more elusive. Our researchers are trained to track down a family’s missing artworks through a variety of means, including, among other things, auction databases and museum catalogues, and consultation with experts on the work of particular artists.