Ongoing: The Restitution Of Nazi-Looted Art

On 3 December 1998, representatives of 44 governments convened in Washington, DC to endorse a set of principles designed to help the heirs of Jewish collectors recover their families’ Nazi-looted art. The goal of the non-binding Washington Principles was “to complete by the end of this century the unfinished business of the middle of the century”, Stuart Eizenstat, the US official who hosted the 1998 conference, said in his concluding statement. Twenty years on, that timetable has proved much

too optimistic. Nazi-looted art is still regularly restituted: high-profile cases in the past year include an Oskar Kokoschka portrait returned to the heirs of the German-Jewish dealer Alfred Flechtheim by Sweden’s Moderna Museet (and sold for a record $20.4m on 12 November at Sotheby’s in New York). Many families are still seeking pictures stolen from their forefathers in what has been called the greatest art heist of all time.

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