Fri, Mar. 16, 2012

Restitution of Art Stolen by Nazi Regime

.   The German Supreme Court in Civil Matters in Karlsruhe ruled on March 16, 2012 in favor of returning art stolen by the Gestapo arm of Nazi Germany despite the fact that statutes of limitations had expired and the government had paid compensation.

In addition, a stolen art commission operating under the auspices of the 1998 Washington Conference Principles On Nazi-Confiscated Art had considered the equities in the matter involving art collector Hans Sachs and the formerly East-German custodial art museum now administered by the German Historial Museum and decided against the physical restitution of the art.

The court tends to publish its decisions on the internet with some delay but it has issued a press release in the matter V ZR 279/10, in German. The court found the general principles of property law, under §985 of the German Civil Code, to apply where the original owner could not timely raise its claims because of historical facts and subsequent blocking laws established and administed by the occupational forces in post-war Germany.

The decision is widely applauded as a major step in the development of art restitution under German law and the Washington Conference.

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