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Books: Nazi Era Looted Art

  • Bohm-Duchen, MonicaArt and the Second World War (January 2014) (ISBN: 978-0691145617). “In this well-researched, clear-eyed assessment of art’s relationship to the war that ‘has left the darkest and most indelible mark on modern society,’ Bohm-Duchen (After Auschwitz) presents a sobering overview of the official and nonofficial fine art produced in warring nations: Spain (with the civil war treated as a prologue to WWII), England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, France, Italy, the Soviet Union, Germany, China, and Japan…” Available for purchase here.
  • Evelien Campfens (editor), Fair and Just Solutions? Alternative to Litigation in Nazi-Looted Art Disputes: Status Quo and New Developments (January 2015) (ISBN 978-9462364714). “This book aims to give an overview of the current status quo in the field, both in countries where special committees have been installed and beyond. Through contributions from leading experts and a discussion amongst stakeholders it explores a way to move forward, a makes a case for international cooperation and neutral and transparent procedures for solving ownership issues.” Available for purchase here.

  • Chamberlain, Kevin, War and Cultural Heritage (2nd ed., April 2013) (ISBN: 978-1903987315). This revised edition contains an article by article commentary on the 1954 Hague Convention and its Two Protocols. The book also analyses other instruments of international humanitarian law relevant to the protection of cultural property. The book takes into account the latest developments regarding the international efforts to secure restitution of Holocaust-looted cultural property, including the work of the UK’s Spoliation Advisory Panel. Available for purchase here.
  • Chamberlin, Russell, Loot! The Heritage of Plunder (August 1985) (ISBN: 978-0871962591). This book “examines the looting of major ancient civilizations and of many Third World nations.” Available for purchase here.
  • Edsel, Robert M.Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe’s Great Art – America and Her Allies Recovered It (December 2006) (ISBN: 978-0977434909). “Rescuing Da Vinci… is a crime story, writ so large it covers a continent. It gathers together, for the first time, nearly 500 photos documenting the Nazi theft of tens of thousands of artworks from European museums and private collections. And it details the immense, painstaking, though little-recognized, efforts of Allied armies to recover and return these precious items.” Available for purchase here.
  • Edsel, Robert M.Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis (May 2013) (ISBN: 978-0393082418). “Edsel…clearly presents the war in Italy as a battle not just to occupy the land but also to preserve the country’s culture. In urgent and precise prose, he puts the reader in the cockpit, the foxhole, and the cramped offices of those charged with saving the artwork. Most of the pilfering and destruction of art treasures was done by the Nazis, of course, but Edsel points out that the Allies were not blameless, either. This is a must-read for WWII buffs and anyone interested in the fight for art history.” Available for purchase here.
  • Hay, Bruce L., Nazi-Looted Art and the Law: The American Cases (November 2017) (ISBN: 978-3319649665). This book offers a clear, accessible account of the American litigation over the restitution of works of art taken from Jewish families during the Holocaust. For the past two decades, the courts of the United States have been an arena of conflict over this issue that has recently captured widespread public attention. In a series of cases, survivors and heirs have come forward to claim artworks in public and private collections around the world, asserting that they were seized by the Nazis or were sold under duress by owners desperate to escape occupied countries. Spanning two continents and three-quarters of a century, the cases confront the courts with complex problems of domestic and international law, clashes among the laws of different jurisdictions, factual uncertainties about the movements of art during and after the war, and the persistent question whether restitution claims have been extinguished by the passage of time. Available for purchase here.
  • Hickley, Catherine, The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler’s Dealer and His Secret Legacy (September 2015) (ISBN 978-0500252154). Available later in the year, this book rushes to deliver the biography of Cornelius Gurlitt. From the editors: “When Cornelius Gurlitts trove became public in November 2013, it caused a worldwide media sensation. Catherine Hickley has delved into archives and conducted dozens of interviews to uncover the story behind the headlines. Her book illuminates a dark period of German history, untangling a web of deceit and silence that has prevented the heirs of Jewish collectors from recovering art stolen from their families more than seven decades ago by the Nazis. Hickley recounts the shady history of the Gurlitt hoard and brings its story right up to date, as 21st-century politicians and lawyers puzzle over the inadequacies of a legal framework that to this day falls short in securing justice for the heirs of those robbed by the Nazis.” Available for purchase here.

  • Lindsay, Ivan, History of Loot and Stolen Art – From Antiquity Until the Present Day (September 2013) (ISBN: 978-1906509217). “From the Ancients, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Moors and Charlemagne, the author traces how a lust for pride of ownership and power over the vanquished has driven conquerors, confiscators (the old-fashioned word for looters) and ruthless administrators to grab the valuable possessions of others. The different motivation of the greatest looters in history is a theme which is examined throughout the book.” Available for purchase here.
  • O’Connor, Anne-Marie, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (February 2012) (ISBN: 978-0307265647). Described as a “riveting social history; an illuminating and haunting look at turn-of-the-century Vienna; a brilliant portrait of the evolution of a painter; a masterfully told tale of suspense. And at the heart of it, the Lady in Gold–the shimmering painting, and its equally irresistible subject, the fate of each forever intertwined.” Available for purchase here.
  • O’Donnell, Nicholas M, A Tragic Fate: Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi-Looted Art (August 2017) (ISBN: 978-1634257336). “The organized theft of fine art by Nazi Germany has captivated worldwide attention in the last twenty years. As much as any other topic arising out of World War Two, stolen art has proven to be an issue that simply will not go away. Newly found works of art pit survivors and their heirs against museums, foreign nations, and even their own family members. These stories are enduring because they speak to one of the core tragedies of the Nazi era: how a nation at the pinnacle of fine art and culture spawned a legalized culture of theft and plunder. A Tragic Fate is the first book to address comprehensively the legal and ethical rules that have dictated the results of restitution claims between competing claimants to the same works of art. It provides a history of Art and Culture in German-occupied Europe, an introduction to the most significant collections in Europe to be targeted by the Nazis, and a narrative of the efforts to reclaim looted artwork in the decades following the Holocaust through profiles of some of the art world’s most famous and influential restitution cases.” Available for purchase here. REVIEWED.
  • Nicholas, Lynn H., The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War (April 1994) (ISBN: 978-0679756866). “From the Nazi purges of “Degenerate Art” and Goering’s shopping sprees in occupied Paris to the perilous journey of the Mona Lisa from Paris and the painstaking reclamation of the priceless treasures of liberated Italy, The Rape of Europa is a sweeping narrative of greed, philistinism, and heroism that combines superlative scholarship with a compelling drama.” Available for purchase here.
  • Sinclair, Anne, My Grandfather’s Gallery: A Family Memoir (September 2014) (ISBN: 978-0374251628). Sinclair, granddaughter of the great Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg, “paints a vivid portrait of a moment of exceptional brilliance in French artistic life…the speed and greed with which it was so brutally destroyed, and the efficiency with which these deeds of destruction were covered up and forgotten.” Available for purchase here.
  •  Ulph, Janet and Ian Smith The Illicit Trade in Art and Antiquities: International Recovery and Criminal and Civil Liability (May 2015) (ISBN: 9781509905454). “This new text provides practical guidance on the modern law relating to cultural objects which have been stolen, looted or illegally exported. It explains how English criminal law principles, including money laundering measures, apply to those who deal in cultural objects in a domestic or international setting. It discusses the recovery of works of art and antiquities in the English courts where there are competing claims between private individuals, or between individuals and the UK Government or a foreign State. Significantly, this text also provides an exposition of the law where a British law enforcement agency, or a foreign law enforcement agency, is involved in the course of criminal or civil proceedings in an English court. ” Available for purchase here.