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THE GURLITT HOARD: AN APPRAISAL OF THE ROLE OF INTERNATIONAL LAW WITH RESPECT TO NAZI-LOOTED ART

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Two years ago, German authorities conducting a routine tax investigation stumbled on the largest trove of missing artworks since the end of the Second World War. The collection of paintings and drawings was discovered in a Munich apartment owned by Cornelius Gurlitt, the late son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, one of the art dealers approved by the Nazis. It is likely that most of these artworks were plundered from German museums and Jewish collections in the period 1933-1945. The discovery triggered heated debates about the obligations of the German State and the property rights over this art collection. This article looks at the ongoing Gurlitt case from an international law perspective and discusses two different but interrelated issues. First, it traces the genealogy and extrapolates the influence of the international legal instruments that have been adopted to deal with the looting of works of art committed by the Nazis. Second, it examines the available means of dispute settlement that can lead to the “just and fair” solution of Holocaust-related cases in general and the Gurlitt case in particular. The objective of this analysis is to demonstrate that international law plays a key role in addressing and reversing the effects of the Nazi looting.

10.1163/22116133-90230044
/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90230044
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/content/journals/10.1163/22116133-90230044
2014-11-17
2017-11-23

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