Holocaust Conference Urges More Efforts on Looted Art

Source: Bloomberg, 6-28-09

The governments of 46 nations pledged to boost efforts to return artworks and other property seized during the Nazi era to Jewish victims and their heirs. After a Prague meeting on Holocaust-era assets, delegates will tomorrow endorse a non-binding accord, promising to conduct more provenance research on art in public collections, to open public archives and to ensure that claimants have access to “just and fair” solutions and speedy consideration of their claims. “Our work to rectify the wrongs of the Holocaust remains highly incomplete,” Stuart Eizenstat, a former U.S. deputy Treasury secretary leading the American delegation in Prague, said in a speech. “Too few people have recovered too few of their Nazi-looted artworks and too many works remain in museums and private collections in Europe and around the world.”

During Adolf Hitler’s 12-year rule, the Nazis stole about 650,000 artworks, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany estimates. Almost 65 years after the end of World War II, the Art Loss Register, a database of stolen art, lists 70,000 works lost before and during the war that are still being sought by the owners. The Prague conference was called to review progress since governments agreed in Washington in 1998 to identify stolen art in museums’ collections, publicize the results and encourage pre-war owners and their heirs to make claims.

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