Category: art litigation

Can A Jewish Man Imprisoned In Dachau Concentration Camp Transfer Valid Legal Title To A Schiele Painting?

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Egon Schiele’s Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (1917)

On October 31, the family of Fritz Grunbaum gathered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial To The Holocaust to thank former District Attorney Robert Morgenthau for his efforts to recover Egon Schiele’s Dead City III, an artwork he seized on behalf of Grunbaum’s family at the MoMA in 1998.

Mr. Morgenthau, referring to the above drawing, read the following from a concurrence written by Judge Edward Korman when he sat by designation on  a case called Bakalar v. Vavra at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals:

Grunbaum was arrested while attempting to flee from the Nazis. After his arrest, he never again had physical possession of any of his artwork, including the Drawing. The power of attorney, which he was forced to execute while in the Dachau concentration camp, divested him of his legal control over the Drawing. Such an involuntary divestiture of possession and legal control rendered any subsequent transfer void.
Bakalar v. Vavra, 619 F.3d 136, 148 (2d. Cir. 2010)(concurrence)

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Nazi Looted Art in US Museums – Professor Jennifer Kreder Speaks Out

Great interview with law professor Jennifer Kreder on Illinois Public Radio on artworks looted by the Nazis that are now in US museums that were smuggled into the US through Switzerland.  Get the shocking story here.

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Focus: Nazi Looted Art and U.S. Museums from Illinois Public Media on Vimeo.