Germany grants Rieger heirs restitution while Austria still refuses

The Limbach Commission recommends that the City of Cologne restitute the watercolor “Crouching Female Nude” by Egon Schiele to the heirs of the Viennese dentist Heinrich Rieger.

Heinrich Rieger had lost his collection almost entirely through distress sales or Aryanization due to persecution. Before March 1938, there is only evidence of a few individual cases of Schiele works being sold. The city of Cologne was unable to present any evidence to the contrary that the disputed watercolor was not one of the works lost to persecution. Since it considers Heinrich Rieger’s ownership of the work of art to be proven and the presumption of a loss due to Nazi persecution to be not refuted, the Advisory Commission unanimously spoke out in favor of restitution.

Die Limbach-Kommission empfiehlt der Stadt Köln die Restitution des Aquarells „Kauernder weiblicher Akt“ von Egon Schiele an die Erben des Wiener Zahnarztes Heinrich Rieger.
Heinrich Rieger hatte seine Sammlung verfolgungsbedingt fast zur Gänze durch Notverkäufe oder Arisierungen verloren. Abgaben von Schiele-Werken sind vor März 1938 nur in wenigen Einzelfällen nachweisbar. Einen Gegenbeweis, dass das umstrittene Aquarell nicht zu den verfolgungsbedingt verlorenen Werken gehörte, konnte die Stadt Köln nicht vorlegen. Da sie Heinrich Riegers Eigentum an dem Kunstwerk als erwiesen und die Vermutung eines NS-verfolgungsbedingten Verlustes nicht widerlegt sieht, sprach sich die Beratende Kommission einstimmig für die Restitution aus.


UPDATE – Dispute over Ownership of Nazi Victim’s Art Turns to Pre-judgment Interest

Following the New York Appellate Division’s affirmance of the New York State Supreme Court’s decision in Reif v. Nagy ordering the turnover of two works of art transferred under duress, if not stolen, following the Nazi takeover of Austria to the heirs of their original Jewish owner, Fritz Grünbaum,[1] the dispute has turned to the increasingly significant issue of pre-judgment interest.

20210115 UPDATE – Dispute over Ownership of Nazi Victim’s Art Turns to Pre-judgment Interest _ HHR Art Law


Finden Sie hier die deutsche Übersetzung:

20210115 - Update Blog

In the News: In Case Over Nazi-Looted Art, Dispute Over $1.4M in Prejudgment Interest Heats Up

“As long as they continue to assert title, we can’t sell the artworks,” said the lawyer for the
Jewish heirs to an Austrian 1920s art collector who had owned the Egon Schiele paintings
before the Nazis imprisoned him.

The heirs are claiming that interest on the artworks they
won possession of continues to grow as the interest amount is disputed and leave for appeal
on the merits is sought.

Law Journal
Übersetzung NYL-Joural

Here a rough german translation

Übersetzung NYL-Joural

In the News: Provenance Research: Many Unanswered Questions at the Leopold Museum – Provenienzforschung: Viele offene Fragen im Leopold-Museum

The question of whether there is looted art in the Leopold Museum Vienna has lost none of its topicality. By next year’s 20th anniversary of the museum, not even 90% of the collection, some 3,760 works of art, willl have been researched.

The ongoing need for provenance research is part of the government’s funding programme despite the museum being a special case as it is not state-owned but a private foundation. It is however state-funded and since 2008 the government has financed 1.5 research positions.The dossiers on 312 works of art compiled by the two researchers Sonja Niederacher and Michael Wladika were submitted to an independent commission, but in the majority of cases the commission deemed that the status of the works could “not be assessed according to the current state of knowledge”.

Read more

In the News: Dissecting the HEAR Act

“For years, now, Grünbaum’s heirs have fought to bring home works that were once part of his collection; however, they have faced a lot of push back and failure in the process. In 2005, an attempt to restitute Seated Woman With Bent Left Leg (Torso) by Schiele was thwarted when the court deemed that too much time had passed for Grünbaum’s heirs to lay claim to it. In 2015, Grünbaum’s heirs began the process of seeking the return of Schiele’s Woman in a Black Pinafore (1911) and Woman Hiding her Face (1912). Thanks to the HEAR Act, the case was heard and, in his ruling, Judge Ramos stated: ‘The HEAR Act compels us to help return Nazi-looted art to its heirs […] the gut-wrenching process by which Mr. Grünbaum’s property was looted.’”

Read the whole article here:

In the News: Austrian Performer’s Heirs Found to Have Superior Right to Looted Schiele Works

…Under New York law, Nagy could only receive good title to the artworks from a seller with good title to give. Since no evidence was presented to show anyone involved in the sale of the works since Grünbaum’s death had good title, Nagy was unable to prove he held title superior to the heirs…

Die deutsche Übersetzung des Artikels befindet sich am Ende des Posts.

20190823 New York Appellate Court Upholds Purpose of HEAR Act_ Austrian Performer’s Heirs Found to Have Superior Right to Looted Schiele Works _ Institute of Art and Law
20190823New York Berufungsgericht unterstützt das Ziel des HEAR Act -de