|Landscapes with Smokestacks, 1890, Edgar Degas|
Source: Art Now and Then
Source: Northwestern University
|Art Institute of Chicago|
Historical documents should never be made to serve either parties. Historical accuracy is all that is required and let the chips fall where they may. For instance, cases of duress or forced sales are the most contentious to date, because the evidence is complex and the stakes are high as the pieces under scrutiny are worth millions of dollars and museums are fighting tooth and nail to prevent them from being returned, while claimants are seeking to establish that a misappropriation occurred during the formative years of the Third Reich.
The experts for the Museum of Modern Art needled the plaintiffs about how to interpret the relationship between Grosz and his dealer, while the plaintiffs’ expert asserted that Grosz had never been compensated for the works under question and that MOMA had obtained them knowing full well that Grosz might actually be the rightful owner but passed over critical aspects of the historical evidence.
Although a separate article is required to explore the depths of this significant case which was settled in favor of MOMA in 2010, the case was rife with accusations from the plaintiffs alleging withholding of key documents by MOMA and unethical behavior by its senior staff, while MOMA’s experts questioned the fact that Grosz had been plundered and suggested that he could go outside of Nazi Gemany to find a buyer for his works and that perhaps he had been compensated by his dealer, Flechtheim, who himself was spoliated by the Nazis.
|Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York|
It is critically important for academic institutions, publishers, and individuals alike to produce detailed and unimpeachable analyses of the dynamics, mechanics, and processes of plunder as they evolved in each country under Axis control, the interrelationship between the market and State-sponsored plunder, the role of art professionals in the abetting of State-sponsored plunder and looting in territories occupied by the Nazis, and the postwar evolution of the art market within the framework of a failed policy of cultural restitution.