Restitution of Art Looted During the Nazi Era, 1933-1945: Implications for Australia

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Abstract

Over the last few years in Australia disputes have arisen over the ownership of artworks which were confiscated from their Jewish owners during the Nazi era, 1933-1945. This article describes the confiscation and looting of artworks in Europe and the implications of those activities for the provenance of ownership after the Second World War. The article then surveys retrieval actions, and the various international conferences which addressed the restitution of looted artworks, including the Washington Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets of 1998, the 2000 Vilnius International Forum on Holocaust-Era Looted Cultural Assets and the 2009 Holocaust-Era Assets Conference in Prague. The domestic responses in the USA and UK to the confiscation principles enunciated in these conferences are surveyed with a view to exploring the possible responses of the Australian Government to the issue of restoring looted artworks to those claiming ownership. This is an issue which has not been considered in any detail in Australia and for which the initiatives of the USA and UK, in particular, provide useful precedents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-273
JournalUniversity of Western Australia Law Review
Volume41
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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