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Starting from Scratch: Provenance Research and Lost Art Databases

History of objects may add to their allure and enrich their stories as well as complicate their property rights. Professionals and lay people are frequently dealing with uncertainties when handling works of art. Assuming the object is authentic, how did it get from the studio or the factory where it was produced to its present location? The movement of objects through time and space frequently transcends armed conflict and other forms of upheaval. Is the current resting place of the object, necessarily or lawfully the place where the object belongs? When Egon Schiele’s painting “Portrait of Wally” was loaned to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City from the Leopold Museum in Vienna, did it matter that the same painting was looted from an Austrian art dealer Lea Bondi-Jaray? The painting became the subject of one of the longest Nazi-era looted art litigations and concerned private and public entities from numerous jurisdictions. According to the settlement agreement, from 2019 and onwards, the painting must be displayed with a lengthy wall label narrating the provenance history of this iconic Schiele painting.

A workshop lead by Marc Masurovsky, co-founder of the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP) and the Academic Director of the Jewish Digital Cultural Recovery Project (JDCRP) will identify key questions that must be asked when conducting provenance research, as well as explore select resources available for reconstructing trajectory of objects that have been looted and displaced as a result of the ascent of the Nazis to power in 1933. Don’t miss this opportunity to engage on the subject of Nazi-era looted art and best practices for provenance research.

Course Materials

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