In what some experts are calling the largest unresolved Holocaust art claim, heirs of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog — a well-known Jewish Hungarian art collector — have commenced an action in federal court (District of Columbia) against the Republic of Hungary and various Hungarian museums seeking the return of over $100 million worth of art that they allege is rightfully theirs — Complaint.
The artworks — which include a number of works by El Greco, Velázquez, Renoir and Monet — were seized in the 1940’s by the Hungarian government which was an ally of Nazi Germany. In de Csepel v. Republic Of Hungary, the heirs allege that the infamous Adolf Eichmann inspected the art collection in Hungary and had some works shipped to Germany and allowed the rest to remain in Hungary.
The suit raises a number of interesting legal issues regarding Hungary’s sovereign immunity and the relevance of a Hungarian court’s ruling that the heirs were not entitled to the artworks. An interesting allegation is that Hungary is pursuing other parties for the return of Nazi art – yet refuses to return this art to the heirs.
We will continue to follow this interesting case. Thanks to Mendel Simon for his contribution to this post.
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