Monday, October 8, 2012

Nazi-seized Art on Display in NYC

The Nazi regime that murdered six million innocent Jewish victims also stole the art created and owned by its victims and by others. Some of the stolen art is in New York City.

Stolen Art

Authorities estimate that 650,000 pieces of art were stolen by the Nazi regime. While some of the pieces were destroyed, many survive even today.

In 1988, the United States convened a conference regarding Holocaust era stolen assets. More than 40 countries convened, and plans emerged to investigate art and other assets for the taint of Nazi theft.

New York City's Modern Museum of Art

Our city's Modern Museum of Art ("MoMA") has been exposed as having art tainted by the Nazi murders and by the need for potential victims of the Nazi regime to flee.

The New York Post focused yesterday on MoMA's successful defense of a piece of art in its possession. MoMA retained possession of the art by arguing that the statute of limitations had expired, thereby preventing the rightful owners from gaining possession. The family of the creator of the art is angry that MoMA is displaying art that it knows is tainted by Nazi atrocities.

MoMA has identified 800 pieces of art in its possession that were potentially in Europe during the Nazi era, but it has stated that most of that collection of art has been proven to be untainted. But, the MoMA website lists some of its art as stolen by the Nazi regime.

Other Museums in NYC

Many of the other museums in our city have art that is potentially tainted, but there has not been any significant movement of that art from our museums to the other, rightful owners.

"Other museums, including the Met, identified 500 works which were allegedly in Europe during the Nazi era, and thus far, has settled five claims and returned six pieces. The Brooklyn Museum found 200 pieces tied to the Nazi era, but said it has not received any claims and has not returned any works. The Jewish Museum, with 275 paintings dating back to World War II, also said it has not received any claims. The Guggenheim would not comment as to whether it had returned any of its 300 Nazi-era pieces."

People of conscience should find no difficulty is promoting the return of Nazi-seized art to its rightful owners by our NYC museums. Let us commit to advocating in favor of removing the taint from our proud institutions.

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