25 years Later: Speaking about “The Washington Principles”
December 8, 2023
What’s there to talk about?! A quarter century after the signing of the Washington Principles and 80 years after the London Conference which produced a public statement that taking of property by the Nazis will not be recognized by the art world once the World War 2 would come to an end, in 2023 the world is still dealing with Nazi-era looted art claims and disputes. While the leading art museums are engaging with experts to review provenance of art long in their care, courts and auction houses still grapple with restitution claims. Conflicts of law, statutes of limitation and loss of memory and evidence make outcomes of claims for recovery of art intentionally or opportunistically looted during World War 2, hinder our ability to find and reach fair and just solutions.
To mark this anniversary with an informal conversation and to acknowledge that fairness is not guaranteed in cases involving art claims, join us to hear from the Center’s in house expert: our Board of Advisors’ member Jen Kreder (author of amicus briefs and numerous articles about Nazi-era looted art cases), our Board of Director’s Peter Toren, plaintiff in the recently decided Toren v. The Fed. Republic of Germany. Moderated by Irina Tarsis, Founder of the Center for Art Law, let’s think whether the US still needs or ever needed a Commission to Resolve Nazi-era Looted Art Claims. We will discuss the recent developments in cases citing the HEAR act and in trends that Nazi-era looted art cases are setting for 2024.
Irina Tarsis, Esq. is an art historian and a practicing attorney admitted to the bar in New York State. She earned her Masters Degree in Art History from Harvard University and her J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (NY). Ms. Tarsis launched the Center for Art Law as a blog in 2008/2009. Under her leadership, the Center was incorporated as a stand-alone non-profit organization in December 2017. Ms. Tarsis has served on the faculty of the Teachers College/Columbia University (2020), Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (2012, 2017-2018) and the European Shoah Legacy Institute/Provenance Research Training Workshops in Vilnius, Lithuania (2013), Athens, Greece and Rome, Italy (2014). Her publications include articles in the IFAR Journal, Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Journal, Cultural Heritage & Arts Review, Library and The Cultural Record, the ArtWatch UK Journal and the Institute of Art & Law’s journal, Art Antiquity and Law.
Jen counsels and litigates for clients on a wide variety of subjects, including the creation of and international trade in art, the First Amendment, commercial real estate, employment disputes and non-disclosure agreements.
Before joining the firm, Jen served as a law professor teaching Civil Procedure, Property, Business Organizations, International Business Transactions and Art Law domestically and abroad. She is a widely sought public speaker and quoted or published by such publications as the New York Times, ArtNews, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press and law reviews at Harvard, Duke, University of Southern California and University of Pennsylvania. She has lectured at the request of museums and universities throughout the world, including Oxford and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Jen has appeared in cases about art that traded hands during the Nazi era and the Russian Revolution on behalf of historians, the American Jewish Congress and the Commission for Art Recovery as friends of the court, or amici curiae. At stake were works by such artists as Vincent Van Gogh, Egon Schiele and Paul Cézanne.
Jen got her early training as an International Litigation & Arbitration Associate with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, in New York, concentrating on Holocaust-era inter-governmental negotiation and property litigation issues, art disputes, and class actions. She also was awarded for her work on behalf of Catholic nuns and others tortured and murdered during the Salvadoran civil war. Previously, Jen clerked for The Honorable Barefoot Sanders, United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Her path in life was heavily influenced by studying abroad at Karl Marx Universität in Leipzig, Germany (now the University of Leipzig), as well as in Austria, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Jen is honored to serve as the President of the Archaeology Preservation Fund and on the Advisory Board to the Center for Art Law.
Peter J. Toren is an intellectual property attorney in Washington, D.C. where he helps individuals and companies protect their IP rights. Mr. Toren is representing his family in a case against the Federal Republic of Germany involving family art stolen during the Second World War. (Toren v. Federal Republic of Germany, 1:16-cv-01885-RJL (D.D.C.)). Prior to entering private practice with Sidley Austin LLP, Mr. Toren was a federal prosecutor and handled a number of high-profile investigations involving violations of the CFAA, Criminal Copyright, Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods and the EEA. He is the author of the leading treatise on criminal violations of intellectual property rights and computer crime, Intellectual Property & Computer Crime, (Law Journal Press), and the co-author of Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (Wolters Kluwer). He has published over 100 articles and won the 2010 Burton Award for Excellence in Legal Writing for his article, The Intersection of Intellectual Property and Bankruptcy Law.