The Search for Lost Art Revisited
“He who touches the ashes of the past,
Will burn himself with still glowing coals.” –Elizabeth Heyking
Han Sachs invoked this quote in his autobiographical work: "The World’s Greatest Poster Collection: How it came into being and How it Disappeared From the Face of the Earth." As the title of his book suggests, Sachs (who was, among other things, Einstein’s dentist) compiled an invaluable poster collection that was confiscated by the Nazis in November, 1938. He died without ever recovering his treasured collection.
In a recent essay published in the Timesonline, his great-granddaughter recounts the subsequent efforts made by Sachs’ son to recover his late father’s collection. Despite the fact that Germany: (i) committed to return confiscated art found in museums by signing the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art in 1999, and (ii) where the Third Reich was implicated, implied that it would not invoke any statute of limitations, a recent Court decision in favour of the estate was nonetheless appealed by the German government and the decision is pending.
The efforts of an executor of an estate to recover lost art poses special challenges that I recounted in this blog reviewing the efforts of the estate trustees of the estate of Max Stern and the advent of the Lost Art Internet Database.
David M. Smith
David M. Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.