In 2010, German customs police discovered that Mr. Cornelius Gurlitt had travelled by train from Zurich to Munich with a large sum of cash.  A subsequent investigation revealed that Mr. Gurlitt reportedly failed to file tax returns.  Since Mr. Gurlitt was suspected of a possible tax fraud, a search warrant for his Munich apartment was issued.  Reuters, the Daily Mail, and The Economist explained that during the execution of the search warrant, approximately 1400 paintings were discovered stashed in the apartment.

As Germany Says 590 Artworks in Munich Haul May Be Nazi Loot suggests, some of these paintings will be the subjects of Holocaust-era art restitution claims filed by the heirs of Jewish art collectors.  Raymond Dowd, Esq. handles these kinds of claims.  Mr. Dowd tried Bakalar v. Vavra, Index No. 05-CV-3037 (S.D.N.Y.), the first Nazi-era art case ever to go to trial in federal court.  He also lectured widely on Nazi-era art restitution cases, including at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel; the Jewish Museum, Berlin, Germany; The Prague Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, Czech Republic; the New York State Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

In Estate of Margaret Kainer v. UBS AG, NY County Supreme Court, Index No. 650026/2013, Mr. Dowd represents the heirs of Margaret Kainer.   The heirs assert that the Degas pastel of Danseuses was part of Margaret Kainer’s estate which could have included as many as 400 works of art.  During WWII the Nazis had however, looted art from Margaret and Ludwig Kainer, who were a Jewish couple.  The pastel of Danseuses was auctioned by Christie’s for $10,722,500 on November 3, 2009.

The proposed amended complaint in Kainer seeks the return of the pastel to the heirs.  According to the proposed amended complaint, assets belonging to Margaret Kainer’s estate were also “effectively looted” after WWII by Defendant UBS.  This alleged looting supposedly occurred via a sham Swiss foundation used to transfer Margaret Kainer’s estate assets.

Six US Army Trucks Arrive On 7/21/1945 At Piazzo Dei Signoria, Florence, Italy, To Return Some Of The Half Billion Dollars Worth Of Florentine Art Plundered By The German Army¹

¹Photo: National Archives and Records Administration 

Copyright 2013 Fred L. Abrams