The WSJ’s Mary Lane points to next week’s hearings on the collection of medieval Christian artifacts that will be seen as a test of Germany’s willingness to address restitution matters which are hampered by the lack of records available online:
The State of Prussia purchased the 42 works in the Guelph treasure, also known as the “Welfenschatz,” in 1935 from three Jewish art dealers, said Mel Urbach, an attorney arguing the claim for the descendants of the three dealers. One of the dealers had already fled to Amsterdam after being warned by a non-Jewish friend of Hitler’s escalating plans for violence against Jews, Mr. Urbach said. […]
The outcome of the Guelph claim and the speed of its resolution could have a big impact on cases against Mr. Gurlitt and influence other museums in Germany to agree to go before the Limbach Commission, say U.S. and Israeli officials.
Germany’s restitution process has been criticized because museums cannot be compelled to come before the commission. Austria, by contrast, can order its museums to do so and has ruled on 300 cases since its commission was founded in 1998. The Limbach Commission has ruled on seven since 2003.
Munich’s prestigious Pinakothek der Moderne museum has repeatedly declined to go before Limbach to discuss six Max Beckmann paintings that once belonged to Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, whose family Mr. Urbach also represents.
“A speedy decision by Limbach in the Guelph case could set a better tone for Germany going forward,” Mr. Urbach said.