The Restoration Of Art To Rightful Owners Term Paper

Length: 2 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Art - Famous Works Type: Term Paper Paper: #19420548 Related Topics: Law, Germany, Artifact, France
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Chapter Review: Art Theft and the Art Market

Jennette Greenfields chapter on Art Theft and the Art Market from her 2007 book The Return of Cultural Treasures highlights the complicity of the art market in circulating artistic treasures with a suspect history. Historically, the right to plunder a nation has been one of the spoils of war. This was true of both Napoleon and Hitler. Because both dictators were the losers, historically speaking, however, in the aftermath of their reigns, there was an attempt to restore the taken treasures to their rightful owners. Where the victors did the pillaging, the struggle for proper restoration has often been far more difficult. Even then, many of the treasures looted by the Nazis have been scattered all over the world and not been returned to their rightful owners.

It is bitterly ironic that a regime that claimed its moral and national superiority as a result of racial and ethnic heritage did so much looting of other nations art and even private collections. As late as 1984, according to Greenfield (2007), several thousand treasures were found located in a cave. Unfortunately, by that late date, most of the potential claimants lacked appropriate documentation to establish their claims upon the objects, despite the existence of the 1969 Final Settlement of Heirless Property Law. In actual practice, very few objects were given back under the law, and despite…of artifacts, which exist in France and other nations with substantial art and museum collections, in the shadowy world of private dealers, they are often poorly enforced.

In New York State, there have been some shifts in the law to benefit those attempting to restore what is rightfully theirs, including extending the statue of limitations regarding litigation from when ownership is established, versus when the theft occurred (Greenfield, 2007). Still, connecting art with rightful public and private owners has proved to be an arduous and emotional task. For many, the decision to do so has political as well as personal meaning, given the reasons for the capture, as is perhaps most poignantly illustrated in the acts of Nazi…

Sources Used in Documents:


Greenfield, J. (2007). The return of cultural treasures. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Petropoulos, J. (2017). The restitution of looted art: Art dealer networks in the Third Reich and in the postwar period. Journal of Contemporary History 52(3) 546–565.

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