Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
I found this article from the New York Times and realized how little I know about the legalities of purchasing and selling art pieces.
The article discusses the differing opinions about whether the family of Fritz Grünbaum, who died in a Nazi concentration camp, should receive compensation for two paintings by Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele that were confiscated by the Nazis at the time of Grünbaum’s arrest. Christie’s and Sotheby’s happen to be the two auction houses at either end of the debate. Christie’s believes Grünbaum’s family should be compensated, whereas Sotheby’s believes that Grünbaum’s family should not, following the claim that the paintings were sold by Grünbaum’s wife’s sister to a man named Eberhard Kornfeld, and not stolen from the family. Supposedly, some lawyers denied the family’s claims of ownership believing their claim came too late. However, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets seems to view Kornfeld’s story as suspicious.
Having no background in the visual arts, and no real understanding of all the legalities that go into art purchases and ownership, I cannot speak much to the issue. But I am curious to know, what do some of you visual arts people think? Is this a common issue?