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Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin Loses World War II Trophy Art Case in New York

First German Cultural Institution to Fail on Claim for Return in United States Court - Zugleich Besprechung von Surrogate's Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau, Urteil vom 30. März 2010 -


Thomas R. Kline

Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin had never notified authorities of the wartime loss of a valuable gold tablet from what is now Iraq even though Soviet troops were seen taking valuables away from the Museum and the tablet was missing after that. Museum also failed to respond to a potential sighting of the tablet on the New York art market. New York state court judge found Museum’s conduct inexplicable and unjustifiable noting that its failure to report or search for its missing tablet extended through the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification, extending up to the present day. In a cautionary tale for all German museums to have suffered wartime losses, New York Judge held that holder of the object, estate of deceased man who had purchased it, was prejudiced by evidence that could have been lost over the decades of Museum’s neglect.


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