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From Murder To Museums: Current Controversies Over Nazi-Looted Art
The Hon. Timothy Reif (U.S. Court of International Trade) recounts the exceptional talent, courage and kindness of his “great-uncle” Fritz Grünbaum — among the most notable movie makers and entertainers of the 1920s and 1930s — his murder in the Dachau Concentration Camp and the theft of Grünbaum’s art collection, including 81 works by the artist Egon Schiele.
In 1998, Reif persuaded then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau to seize Egon Schiele’s Dead City III at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Morgenthau’s seizure garnered international headlines and led to the 1998 Washington Conference Principles which today guide restitution principles in over 40 countries.
Attorney Samuel Blaustein describes the legal and procedural aspects of a seizure authorized in Supreme Court, New York County, of two stolen Egon Schiele paintings spotted at the Park Avenue Armory’s Salon+Art Show, November 2015. Attorney Raymond J. Dowd reviews current case law, the impact of the 2016 HEAR Act on New York’s statute of limitations, obstacles facing legal practitioners in pursuing restitution claims, and the outlook for the future of restitution claims.
Post-World War II legal restitution principles were derived from Abraham Lincoln’s idea of taking the profit out of war through the Lieber Code Executive Order 100 of April 1863, to the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions, to the Nuremberg Trials, all of which rejected the spoils of war doctrine. Returning stolen property to Holocaust victims is consistent with American ideals and foreign policy. History’s greatest robbery has long been concealed by history’s greatest murder. Attendees will learn how and when U.S. federal and state courts should serve — as Congress and the U.S. State Department have consistently declared since World War II — as instruments of justice to inspire reclamation efforts worldwide.
Sponsored by the Jewish Lawyers Guild
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