Rewriting History: The Recovery of Nazi-Looted Art
Howard Spiegler, Co-Chair of the International Art Law Group at Herrick, Feinstein LLP, talks to David Glasser, Chairman of The Ben Uri Gallery.
Monday 29 April, 8pm
£15 in advance (£20 at the door)
The looting of art by the Nazi regime and its collaborators before and during World War II was the greatest theft of cultural property in the history of the world.
New York attorney Howard Spiegler will explore:
•The incredible scale of this organized crime, which targeted the victims of the Holocaust, mostly Jews, as well as museums, galleries and other collectors throughout Europe.
•The frequent failure of governments after World War II to return artworks to the families of the original owners, even after they had been recovered by Allied troops
•The efforts, mostly since the 1990’s, to recover the stolen artworks for the families of the victims, from governments, museums, galleries and collectors around the world. Howard’s firm, Herrick, Feinstein LLP, has been at the forefront of these recovery efforts.
Howard Spiegler is a partner at Herrick, and is co-chair of its International Art Group, which counsels museums, galleries, dealers, auction houses, artists, collectors, foreign governments and owners on any issues arising from art transactions or disputes.
Mr. Spiegler has been involved in several litigations brought on behalf of foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims and others to recover cultural property, including:
- Recoveries on behalf of the Republic of Turkey of numerous valuable antiquities.
- The recent litigation brought on behalf of the Estate of Lea Bondi Jaray to recover a Schiele painting, “Portrait of Wally”, confiscated by a Nazi agent in Austria in the late 1930's, which resulted in the recovery by the Estate of the full value of the painting.
- The lawsuit brought on behalf of the heirs of Kazimir Malevich, the world-renowned 20th Century Russian artist, against the City of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which resulted in the recovery of five extremely valuable Malevich paintings.
- The ongoing efforts to recover Nazi-looted artworks for the family of the famous pre-War Jewish art dealer, Jacques Goudstikker, which have succeeded in recovering over 200 works so far.
David Glasser was born and educated in Glasgow. His corporate career was first at Marks and Spencer where he pioneered the ‘Food Only’ store business and then at the Ward White Group prior to the sale of the company to Boots PLC. He initiated the concept of cartoon character ‘branded’ merchandise stores in the UK and ran a diverse set of commercial enterprises before retiring in 1999, originally planned, he points out, for one year only prior to engaging full time (pro bono) in the renaissance of Ben Uri. Since October 2000 he has been Chairman and led the transformation of Ben Uri from a domestic community based art society into a nationally and internationally respected art museum. Ben Uri today proudly represents the Jewish community in the centre of the country’s mainstream visual arts arena, focusing on Art, Identity and Migration and is actively searching for a 35,000 sq. ft. building in the heart of central London within one of the various national gallery / museum locales.
Ben Uri has been involved for the past six years in promoting the importance of museums, worldwide, to implement and publish provenance research of their collections for the critical period between 1933-1945 and was invited to design and chair a symposium on the subject at MOMA in New York. A principle feature of their programme maintaining a spotlight on the whole subject of spoliation and Nazi Looted Art is the exhibition ‘Auction 392, Reclaiming the Galerie Stern, Dusseldorf’ which has toured around the UK, Israel and the USA. Most recently the museum’s Eva Frankfurther curator of Émigré Artists, Sarah MacDougall and David were both interviewed on the BBC on the subject of the Austrian artist Jehudo Epstein whose work was plundered by the Nazis.