In praise of the American legal system

Won\’t find me saying that often but this case:

A 16th century masterpiece has been returned to the heirs of a Jewish man, 70 years after being wrested away during World War II.

They knew the painting was in an Itlaian government run museum, they were trying to get it back. No dice, no one would take any notice. The museum lent it to a museum in the US and the US authorities seized it, ran through the ownership disputes and returned it to the heirs.

There\’s an important underlying point here. There are parts of Europe that are a great deal less active (to put it mildly) in returning those assets seized from Jews and others in WWII that might be just or righteous. It isn\’t just Swiss banks demanding death certificates for those that died in the gas chambers.

The Austrians, for example, returned one painting to a family and then charged them $8,000 storage fees. For something that had been illegally confiscated from a murdered forebear in the first place.

It\’s all still a blot on the landscape….a moral stain.

5 comments on “In praise of the American legal system

  1. not necessarily, dearieme. For example, the Hermitage loans out a lot of its collection – just ensuring that the stuff that was snatched in the Revolutionary period as well as the stuff snatched from the Nazis never leave the country.

    And it can be very difficult to put on those blockbuster exhibitions that museums like so much without the help of some of those US collections. For which there will generally have to be some form of quid pro quo.

  2. This Austrian storage charge: when did it happen?

    Tim adds: Haven’t got the book with me to look up the reference. It’s near the end of “The German Genius” which is in all good bookshops right now.

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