“Restitution work is alive and well”, says Christopher Marinello in a video and that was directed straight at Germany. That translates into PAY, Germany.
Before the cameras speaker Mr. Andreas Titz professes that details of the trove found in Munich in 2011, gee that’s 2 years ago, although the German FAZ says it was 2012 which makes it even more mysterious, “is due to the nature of this case at present classified.” What, those paintings were found during a police raid 2 years ago! Still classified?
Well, so much from Munich’s court on this. Let’s look how this was published on the Focus website and Paul Murphy from FT Alphaville has the scoop. The placement of the article is not bad, for example right above some big tits in the Panorama section.
Murphy is somewhat incredulous: “Is that credible, that in-the-loop art historians have been keeping mum about a secret €1bn prize hoard of Impressionist fare for more than two years? And no one in the police blabbed, or anyone else in the German establishment? Did the major auction houses know? Is there a case for a Stewards into the art market here??”
Well Paul, one answer might be this is Munich and this is the Munich justice system. How about this here from 1980?
Anyway, then there is a certain Mrs. Meike Hoffmann.
Hoffmann is an expert in “degenerate art.” In fact she runs the Degenerate Art Research Centre at Freie Universität. See these previously designated degenerate sculptures she helped uncover three years back.
The Guardian tried to get in touch with her for some information on the art pieces:
Since their seizure, they have been stored in a safe customs building outside Munich, where the art historian Meike Hoffmann, from Berlin university, has been assessing their precise origin and value. When contacted by the Guardian, Hoffmann said she was under an obligation to maintain secrecy and would not be able to comment on the Focus report until Monday.
Why all this secrecy? Might it come to light that German authorities were in cahoots, knew everything? Want to keep the loot? Bavaria is certainly a seedy place.
Anne Webber, founder and co-chair of the commission for Looted Art in Europe.
“It’s actually been two and a half years since these paintings were found, and they’ve been kept completely secret. And there are some very hard questions for the Bavarian government about why they’ve kept this list secret.”
“We need to ask why they haven’t published a list of all the paintings that have been found, so that the families who are looking for their paintings – and have been looking for the past 75 years – can find them, and have them returned to them,” she added.
Here is more on Bavaria in the Telegraph:
“There is a culture of secrecy in Bavaria, and other parts of Germany – but particularly there. We need a culture of transparency and to return these works as quickly as possible.”
She said that many people who dealt with looted Nazi art were interrogated after the war, but claimed that they didn’t have anything.
They then continued to sell the works – “trading it, laundering it, particularly in Bavaria,” said Mrs Webber.
“You have to wonder what is behind the extreme reluctance to provide information,” says Anne Webber, of the London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe. “We have reminded the Bavarian authorities of the need for transparency and requested a full list of the works. So far we have had no response.
“Germany was a signatory to the Washington Principles in 1998 and 1999, along with 44 other countries, making a commitment to identifying the looted works in their collections and publishing the results. Bavarian state collections contain thousands of works acquired during the Nazi period, but they have failed to publish any list. An annotated catalogue of one of the main dealers of the Nazi era was discovered, saying which families the works were taken from and their eventual owners. This would be fantastically useful to the families concerned who are hoping to create a link with their past. This also hasn’t been published.”
The Telegraph gets it right about rotten Bavaria, they are racists:
It is tempting to see this apparent blocking by the Bavarian authorities as something more than the embarrassment that characterises Germany’s official response to its 20th-century past: bloody-mindedness, perhaps, or even belligerence. Bavaria is synonymous, certainly from a British perspective, with social and political conservatism. Munich, though it was an avant garde stronghold early in the century – home to Klee and Kandinsky – provided the platform for Hitler’s rise to power. You don’t have to dig too far below the surface in this part of Germany to encounter an attitude of “what more do these Jews want from us”.
Yet this apparently wilful obfuscation regarding the return of looted works of art is far from exclusively Bavarian. Webber quotes culture minister Bernd Neumann, who declared recently that until the thousands of looted art works in German museums are returned to their owners, there can be no line drawn under this issue. Hanover’s Sprengel Museum, for example, home of the largest collection of the works of Kurt Schwitters, one of the most notable of the banned “degenerate” artists, has yet to publish a list of contested works. The head of the German Museums Association recently went on record as saying that the reluctance to publish lists of works is tied to the likelihood of large numbers of claims.