Nazi-Stolen Art: Time Limit For Return?

The new movie “Woman in Gold,” about the attempts of Maria Altmann to reclaim her family’s Nazi-looted Klimt paintings from the Austrian government, is putting the issue of stolen goods back into the spotlight. (Pictured is Egon Schiele’s 1912 “Portrait of Wally,” a case study in Nazi plunder.) Into this fray, the director of the Albertina Museum in Vienna is calling, rather provocatively, for a time limit on all Nazi-loot restitution claims on art in public collections. “The international community should decide on a sensible time frame of 20 or 30 years from now,” says Klaus Albrecht Schröder. “If we don’t set a time limit of around 100 years after the end of the Second World War, then we should ask ourselves why claims regarding crimes committed during the First World War should not still be valid; why we don’t argue anymore about the consequences of the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian war, and why we don’t claim restitution of works of art that have been stolen during previous wars?”

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