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Hungarian Family Sues Over Major Art Collection Stolen by Nazis

February 6, 2013


Descendants of Jewish industrialist Baron Mór Lipót Herzog are suing Hungary over the theft of Herzog’s art collection by the Nazis, according to Artlyst. Much of the collection now hangs in museums in Budapest.  According to the article:

[T]he Herzog Collection was the largest private art collection in Hungary. It also held the largest number of paintings by El Greco, after the Prado in Madrid, among other priceless  works by key artists such as van Dyck, Velázquez, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Francisco de Zurbarán, Courbet, Corot, Renoir and Monet.

Hungary, as a German ally, legislated its own anti-Jewish laws and In April 1944 the government issued a decree requiring that all Jews surrender luxury goods, including all works of art to the state. Hungarian restitution claims were regulated by the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, which they signed. Unfortunately under Communism the restitution requirements of the Treaty was ignored, as it was by other Iron Curtain countries …

The family of Baron Herzog are determined to fight the case in the US courts and perhaps in the European Courts.

Last week a three-judge panel in a federal court in America heard brief oral arguments in what art experts say could be the largest Holocaust-era art restitution case ever mounted, however no ruling was issued. The case clearly states that the Hungarian courts acted unjustly by failing to return the paintings or pay restitution to Herzog’s relatives, the lawsuit seeks to use U.S. courts to press the claim against the government of Hungary, three of its museums and a university.

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