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March 25, 2016  RSS feed

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‘Woman in Gold’ attorney to speak on art restitution cases

‘The Woman in Gold’ painting by Gustav Klimt, which was stolen by the Nazis ‘The Woman in Gold’ painting by Gustav Klimt, which was stolen by the Nazis Don Burris, the senior attorney who successfully argued the “Woman in Gold” legal case before the U.S. Supreme Court, will be guest speaker at the Florida Holocaust Museum in downtown St. Petersburg on Thursday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m.

For the past 14 years, Burris has devoted his career to the pursuit of art works and other assets stolen by Nazi authorities before and during World War II. He will discuss his work as co-counsel on the “Woman in Gold” case, which was turned into the 2015 film Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren.

Burris’ lecture, entitled “Triumph from Tragedy: Restitution of Stolen Cultural Property,” will discuss the “Woman in Gold” case as well as other art restitution cases in which he has been involved. There will be a question and answer session after his lecture.

The “Woman in Gold” restitution case, popularized by the movie, began in the 1980s when Maria Altmann made a claim that the Austrian government had stolen six Gustav Klimt paintings from her family when they were forced to flee during the Nazi annexation of Austria. Included in the paintings was the portrait of her aunt, referred to as the “Woman in Gold.” The Austrian government contended that after the war the six Klimt paintings had been willed to the federal art museum, the Galerie Belvedere, a claim proved to be untrue.

In 1999, Altmann began her legal battle to have the painting returned to her family. Her suit, with Burris as lead counsel, resulted in the 2004 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Altmann v. Republic of Austria. The ruling allowed Altmann to pursue her claim in Austria and ultimately the paintings were returned to her.

Burris’ talk, open to the public, is presented by Florida Holocaust Museum’s Lawyers of Conscience, underwritten by The Barry A. Cohen legal team. The lecture will include heavy hors d’oeuvres.

The museum is located at 55 Fifth St. S. The cost to attend is a minimum donation of $25 with reservations required. To RSVP, call (727) 820-0100, ext. 301.

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