Nazi Looted Art; Justice v. Business

–A noted British art connoisseur feels that justice would now be better served if the restitution of Nazi looted art ended– At what point does justice ends and business begins? That is the idea behind Sir Norman Rosenthal’s recent article in The Art Newspaper, an influential art journal. The prominent art connoisseur, a former leading curator at London’s Royal Academy for more than 30 years, whose parents were Jewish refugees from Germany an Slovakia, has called for an end of the restitution of Nazi looted Art. His reasons are simple, the restitution has become a business. Grandchildren and other relatives of former owners are now in various litigations for valuable pieces, some in museums. Since 1998 during a conference in Washington where 44 countries pledged to find “fair solutions” many have filed claims to recover art taken from former family members through whatever unscrupulous tactics the Nazis used to acquire whatever art they wanted. Needless to say Rosenthal’s argument has caused a stir among those who have championed the righting of this unquestionable wrong through restitution. Rosenthal who is now active in the art world from Abu Dhabi to Philadelphia no longer believes that restitution is an effective way to overcome the past. “We can no longer wipe history clean” he says adding that the claim to art looted by the Nazis should end with the death of the last surviving owners.
Sometimes justice must look forward, not backward, and certainly forgiveness must. It does look that Sir Norman has a point.