Nazi-looted art

Talking Art: Howard Spiegler on Nazi-looted art

David Glasser, Ben Uri’s Chair and Chief Executive discusses Rewriting History: The Recovery of Nazi-Looted Art with New York attorney Howard Spiegler (event held on 29 April 2013 at the London Jewish Cultural Centre).

The looting of art by the Nazi regime and its collaborators before and during the Second World War was the greatest theft of cultural property in the history of the world.

New York attorney Howard Spiegler at Herrick, Feinstein LLP talks about:

  • 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 1990s, 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 1930s, 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.