Recent Trends in Italian Restitution Cases Avv. Giuseppe Calabi CBM&Partners Studio Legale firstname.lastname@example.org www.cbmlaw.it
1998 - Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art 2009 - Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference a. countries that have made major progress b. countries that have made substantial progress c. countries that have taken some steps d. countries that do not appear to have made significant progress 2014 - St Petersburg ICOM Museums and Politics Conference 2/3 of signatory countries have done “little or nothing” to implement the Washington Principles
A. The Calnan Case - a Happy Ending to Owner’s Battle with the Italian State Bernardo Strozzi (Genoa 1581 - Venice 1644) Santa Caterina d’Alessandria oil on canvas 171.5 x 121.5
Loeser Bequest Loeser bequeathed a selection of thirty works of art and furnishings to the Florence City Council, provided that all the other artistic items in his collection could be exported from Italy any time during the lifetime of his daughter, Matilde, or within two years after her death (or his death, in case he died before she did.)
13 October 1942 - the Villa and the artworks were seized by the Fascist Government In 1944 the Villa was occupied by the Nazi troops and the Strozzi was “loaned” to Field Marshall Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen
In 2002 the painting resurfaced in Vienna on the premises of an Austrian collector, who had inherited it from his father, who had died in 1981. In 2008 the painting was consigned to Sotheby’s in Italy. Sotheby’s conducted thorough research on the painting’s provenance, which revealed its history as a stolen piece.
The auction house notified the Italian police and contacted Ms. Philippa Calnan, who is Loeser’s granddaughter and a former Director of Public Affairs at the Getty Trust in Los Angeles.
“When I first saw the painting, tears welled up in my eyes,” says Calnan. “It’s a big and very beautiful painting, and I almost felt the presence of my grandfather coming down from above and saying: ‘Now it’s up to you.’” (Los Angeles Times November 27, 2013)
29 October 2008: the Italian State declared the painting of cultural interest. 5 May 2010: the Italian State denied the export license. 16 December 2010: the Administrative Court of Lombardy (T.A.R. Lombardia) upheld the export license denial, arguing that the two-year term had elapsed in 2004 (two years after the death of Loeser’s daughter.) 19 February 2013: the Italian State Council (Consiglio di Stato) reversed the judgment and condemned the Italian State to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs.
Italian State Council The violation by the Italian State of the fundamental rights of the Loeser family should have as a consequence that Ms. Calnan be granted a new term for exporting the painting.
22 November 1913: Ms. Calnan regained possession of the painting and donated it to LACMA.
B. The Girolamini Theft - the Fox in the Chicken Coop – Will the Italian State Ever be Able to Recover 4000 Stolen Books ? Jean-Baptiste Huet (Paris 1745 – 1811), Fox in a Chicken Yard oil on canvas (1766), Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco
Girolamini Library (Biblioteca statale oratoriana del monumento nazionale dei Girolamini)
The oldest library in Naples, founded in 1586. Holds 160,000 volumes including 5,000 from the 16 th century and 120 books printed before 1501, known as incunabili (Italian for “cradles.”) The library of choice for Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) author of New Science (1725)
The De Caro Plunder 2011: Mr. Marino Massimo De Caro, a self-taught bibliophile (without a college degree) was appointed as Director of the Girolamini.
17 April 2012: De Caro announced that 1500 books were missing. 20 April 2012: the library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor and De Caro was suspended and investigated for embezzlement. 18 May 2012: 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library, were found in storage in De Caro’s home city of Verona. His defense: he had intended to sell the volumes to raise money to maintain the library. 24 May 2012: De Caro was arrested and, on 15 March 2013, condemned by the Tribunal of Naples to a seven-year imprisonment term commuted to house arrest because he co-operated with investigators.
“The biggest books scandal to hit in the past 150 or 200 years” (Fabrizio Govi, President of the Italian Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association) 2012: The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers issued a warning for buyers and sellers to check any Italian books from the 15th through 17th centuries purchased in the first half of 2012. A number of stolen items from the library have been confiscated by the authorities in Munich (16 items), London (28 items), New York and Tokyo (uncertain numbers.)
Italian Jurisdiction In August 2103 the German police arrested a rare-book dealer in Munich, Herbert Schauer of the auction house Zisska & Schauer, specialised in rare antiquarian books and prints, on charges of complicity in receiving and offering at auction 543 books stolen from the Girolamini. Schauer was extradited to Italy and in June 2014 the Tribunal of Naples condemned Schauer to a 5-year imprisonment term as an accomplice to the embezzlement carried out by De Caro. On August 6, 2014 Schauer left Zisska & Schauer. On the same day the company changed its name to Zisska & Lacher.