Website detailing Jewish art looted by Nazis goes online

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
October 18, 2010 12:32

Site aims to help repatriate artwork to original Jewish owners; featured works include paintings by Picasso, Chagall and Klimt.

2 minute read.



Art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish owners.

nazi stolen art_311. (photo credit:Courtesy of the Claims Conference.)

A website providing information on over 20,000 works of art stolen by the Nazis from their Jewish owners during the 1930s and 1940s was launched Monday.

Much of the artwork featured on the website which includes paintings by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Gustav Klimt has never been restored to the original owners.

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The website was created by the New York-based Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC with the aim of facilitating the repatriation of the looted property.

"Most people think or thought that most of these items were repatriated or restituted," Wesley A. Fisher, director of research at the Claims Conference, was quoted by AP as saying. "It isn't true. Over half of them were never repatriated. That in itself is rather interesting historically."

Marc Masurovsky, the project's director at the museum, said the database was designed to evolve as new information is gathered. "I hope that the families do consult it and tell us what is right and what is wrong with it," he added.

Julius Berman, the chairman of the Claims Conference, said organizing Nazi art-looting records was a key step to righting an injustice.

"It is now the responsibility of museums, art dealers and auction houses to check their holdings against these records to determine whether they might be in possession of art stolen from Holocaust victims," he said.

The website features a wide range of art with different histories of ownership.

For instance, one painting in the database, A Harvest Scene by Dutch-French impressionist Camille Pissaro, whose father was Jewish, was found in 2007 in a safe owned by the deceased arts dealer of Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering. It is currently in the process of being reclaimed by the Rothschild family, its original owners.

However, many other paintings on the website are on display at museums without owners while others - like the Pissarro piece before it was found at the Zurich safe two years ago - are still unaccounted for.

AP contributed to this report.

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