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November 7, 2014  RSS feed

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Expert in Nazi-looted art to speak here Nov. 20

Attorney Howard N. Spiegler was successful in getting compensation for heirs of the owners of this painting, ‘Portrait of Wally’ by Egon Schiele. The dispute was the subject of a 2012 documentary. Attorney Howard N. Spiegler was successful in getting compensation for heirs of the owners of this painting, ‘Portrait of Wally’ by Egon Schiele. The dispute was the subject of a 2012 documentary. An attorney who has been at the forefront of ongoing efforts to recover art stolen by the Nazis or get compensation for those Holocaust victims’ heirs will speak in Tampa later this month.

New York attorney Howard N. Spiegler will discuss “Nazi-looted Art: Unfinished Business” on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Congregation Schaarai Zedek, 3303 W. Swann Ave., Tampa. The free program is sponsored by the temple’s Brotherhood. The talk will be followed by coffee and dessert.

The looting of art by the Nazi regime and its collaborators before and during World War II has been called the greatest theft of cultural property in the history of the world.

Spiegler, co-chair of Herrick, Feinstein’s International Art Law Group, has been involved in several well-known and important litigations brought on behalf of foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims and others to recover stolen artwork or other cultural property.

Among those cases was the recent settlement of long-standing litigation brought on behalf of the estate of Lea Bondi Jaray to recover an Egon Schiele painting, Portrait of Wally, confiscated by a Nazi agent inAustria in the late 1930s. The case, which compensated Jaray’s heirs $19 million for the painting, was one of the first to focus world attention on the problem of Nazi-looted art.

In a panel discussion last year at Rollins College, Spiegler noted that more than 250,000 pieces of art with a total value at the time of more than $2.5 billion, were looted or lost through forced sales during the Nazi reign and that more than 100,000 art pieces remain unaccounted for and not returned to the rightful owners.

He said that one reason it took so long for the issue of Nazi-looted art to come to light was that those surviving the Holocaust were focused on building a new life and they often did not want to discuss what happened to them with their children. But Spiegel said 15-20 years ago several developments occurred which changed that.

A new generation of heirs wanted to learn more about their past and the introduction of the internet and the fall of the Soviet Union brought about more research opportunities and more data to be found. He also said a favorable court ruling and efforts by museums and governments to locate rightful heirs and to return stolen art began to be made, shedding light after more than 60 years on the scope of the problem.

In addition to the Jaray case, Spiegler was also involved in the recent recovery by the heir of the famous Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker of 200 Nazi-looted artworks from the Dutch government; recoveries on behalf of the Republic of Turkey of numerous valuable antiquities; and the recently-resolved action brought on behalf of the heirs of Kazimir Malevich, a world-renowned 20th Century Russian artist, to recover Malevich artworks from the City ofAmsterdam, the Netherlands, which resulted in the recovery by the heirs of five Malevich paintings. One of the Malevich paintings sold at auction at Sotheby’s for $60 million, and another was recently sold to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Those wishing to attend Spiegler’s presentation should RSVP to the temple at (813) 876-2377.

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