In New York, a new law will force museums to recognize works of art stolen by the Nazis

In the art world, provenance is essential. Knowing how the art changed hands from one owner to another establishes history as well as legitimacy. But sometimes this information is not comfortable to hear, as in the case of works of art that were seized by the Nazis.

Now, thanks to a new law, New Yorkers will have the ability to find out whether or not a work of art has been stolen by the Third Reich. According ART newsGovernor Kathy Hochul signed a law requiring museums to disclose when an artwork on display was in possession of the Nazi Party.

During World War II, at least 600,000 paintings were stolen from Jewish victims and monetized or taken in an attempt at cultural erasure. Other works of art were forcibly sold during the war. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh were among those whose works looted by the Nazis of Jewish collectors and dealers.

The new law aims to make it easier for those who owned the art or their property to have it returned to them. In 2018, the return of the Guggenheim a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner titled Gunners to the family of Jewish art dealer Alfred Flechtheim, who was forced to abandon his collection after fleeing Berlin in 1933.

But the passage of time, the statute of limitations and other hurdles can make it difficult to return artwork, and some families have lost lawsuits. In 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art won a lawsuit against the heirs of Paul Leffmann, who was forced to sell The actor by Picasso when he had to flee Cologne in 1938.

A law passed by Congress in 2016, the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, gave heirs six years from the time they discovered an artwork to challenge it. New York law can help provide transparency when it comes to identifying questionable coin ownership.

Affected art in New York museums will have signage indicating its stolen status.

[h/t ARTnews]

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