By the end of World War II, the Nazis had misappropriated thousands of art masterpieces dispersed over time to collections around the world. Claims by Holocaust heirs were ordinarily considered stale because of statutes of limitations, sovereign immunity and other laws. But 21st century courts, diplomatic channels and mediation have injected life into these demands.
Benchmark auction sales of $50-$60 million for such artworks have accelerated restitution demands. Artworks are being reshuffled to and from private and public collections under complex theories of law, policy and remembrance. Moderator Steven Richman, Partner, Duane Hamilton, New Jersey invited Alexandra Darraby, Principal, The Art Law Firm, California and other experts to inform practitioners about procedural strategies, legal theories, evidentiary tips and economic realities in the provenance process: locating the artwork, determining the "rightful" owner, deciding how to navigate relocation. Darraby discussed laws, who benefits, trade regulation, provenance sourcing, as well as the effect on the global cultural conscience, raising issues of the Mid-East, Cambodia, political upheaval and transition in China and Russia, and other war-related art-shifting events.