Museum Worthy By Elizabeth Campbell

  • Narrated by: Holly Adams
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Release date: 05-14-24

Museum Worthy By Elizabeth Campbell AudioBook summary

Art looting is commonly recognized as a central feature of Nazi expropriation. After the war, the famed Monuments Men (and women) recovered several hundred thousand pieces from the Germans’ makeshift repositories. Well-publicized restitution cases, such as that of Gustav Klimt’s luminous painting featured in the film Woman in Gold, illustrate the legacy of Nazi looting in the art world today. But what happened to looted art that was never returned to its rightful owners?

In France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, postwar governments appropriated the most coveted unclaimed works for display in various public buildings. Following cultural property norms of the time, the governments created custodianships over the unclaimed pieces, without using archives in their possession to carry out thorough provenance (ownership) research. This policy extended the dispossession of Jewish owners wrought by the Nazis and their collaborators well into the twenty-first century. The custodianships included paintings by traditional and modern masters, such as Rembrandt, Cranach, Rubens, Tiepolo, Picasso, and Matisse. This appropriation of plundered assets endured without controversy until the mid-1990s, when activists and journalists began challenging the governments’ right to hold these items, ushering in a period of cultural property litigation that endures to this day.


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