Category: Allgemein

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.


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”.

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Austria – Great shift of paradigm in Restitution

It is extraordinarily gratifying that the Advisory Board of the Commission for Provenance Research in the Gertrude Felsoevanyi case has come up with a paradigm shift in the return of looted art which is in possession of the Republic of Austria.

Until now, a formal confiscation had to be proved, but now the German view of restitution is shared, namely that the loss due to persecution is decisive for restitution.

This view is taken with a delay of 25 years, but nevertheless …Chapeau!

It is also noteworthy that the decision is a revision of an earlier decision and that this revision is not based on previously unknown evidence, but on a different view from that taken 18 years ago.

It now remains to be seen to what extent the Commission for Provenance Research will revise and, if necessary, correct its own earlier decisions.

As there is no right of application, the Commission for Provenance Research must take action of its own – hopefully it will!

English Translation is added in the end of the document
Felsoevanyi_Gertrude_2019-04-12 EN und Deutsch


Event in NY: ART RESTITUTION – Fair and Just Solutions?


Fair and Just Solutions?

Thursday, May 23, 2019 • 6:30 PM

—Free Admission & Open to the Public—

New York City Bar Association
42 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10003

Register Now!

This program brings together Hon. John M. Walker Jr. as panel moderator with prominent attorneys in the field of art restitution to discuss the direction of court decisions. We are also pleased to have the Executive Director of the International Foundation for Art Research and the International Director of Restitution at Christie’s look back to the Nazi stolen art era and forward on the broadening of the definition of looted and stolen art.


Hon. John M. Walker, Jr., Panel Moderator
U.S. Circuit Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Raymond J. Dowd, Esq.
Partner, Dunnington Bartholow & Miller LLP

Monica Dugot
International Director of Restitution, Christie’s

Dr. Sharon Flescher
Executive Director, International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)

Lawrence M. Kaye, Esq.
Partner, Herrick Feinstein LLP

William Pearlstein, Esq.
Partner, Pearlstein McCullough & Lederman LLP