Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

German Lost Art Foundation approves approximately 2.8 million Euros for 31 provenance research projects in the area of "Nazi-looted art" in the first round of funding in 2021

Date 2021.05.25

He was con­sid­ered a close friend of Hitler, was very well con­nect­ed in the Nazi state – and founder of to­day's Ger­man Hunt­ing and Fish­ing Mu­se­um in Mu­nich. Chris­tian We­ber, known as the "Tyrant of Mu­nich," had ini­ti­at­ed the found­ing of the "Ger­man Hunt­ing Mu­se­um" in 1938 and en­sured that the col­lec­tion grew con­spic­u­ous­ly, es­pe­cial­ly dur­ing the war years: through busi­ness trips to oc­cu­pied France, through con­tacts with art deal­ers, but above all through his con­nec­tions to high-rank­ing Nazi of­fi­cials or the Gestapo. A prove­nance re­search project fund­ed by the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion aims to clar­i­fy whether and which works of art and ob­jects from the mu­se­um col­lec­tion were loot­ed or ex­tort­ed, and how We­ber per­son­al­ly en­riched him­self in the pro­cess. Some ob­jects have al­ready been iden­ti­fied as loot­ed prop­er­ty from the pos­ses­sion of Jew­ish col­lec­tors, and 156 are cur­rent­ly con­sid­ered to be pos­si­bly con­tam­i­nat­ed.

The project in Mu­nich is one of 31 re­search projects in the field of Nazi-loot­ed art that will be fi­nan­cial­ly sup­port­ed by the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg in the first round of fund­ing in 2021. On the rec­om­men­da­tion of its ad­vi­so­ry board, the board of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion has ap­proved around 2.8 mil­lion Eu­ros for prove­nance re­search at mu­se­ums, li­braries, aca­dem­ic in­sti­tu­tions and for six pri­vate ap­pli­cants in this first round of ap­pli­ca­tions in 2021.

Not on­ly works of art will be in­ves­ti­gat­ed, but al­so books, for ex­am­ple: The Foun­da­tion Moses Mendelssohn Akademie Hal­ber­stadt, for ex­am­ple, is re­search­ing the prove­nance of an ex­ten­sive bun­dle of thou­sands of books and loose sheets that was hand­ed over to the foun­da­tion in 2018 in 20 Wehrma­cht am­mu­ni­tion box­es and sev­er­al mov­ing box­es. Ini­tial re­search sug­gests that the books were most­ly owned by de­port­ed or em­i­grat­ed Jews.

Mu­se­ums and li­braries are not the on­ly ones in­ves­ti­gat­ing the ori­gins of their hold­ings. De­scen­dants of those per­se­cut­ed are re­search­ing the his­to­ry of their an­ces­tors' scat­tered col­lec­tions: Ha­gar Lev, great-grand­daugh­ter of the Jew­ish Mu­nich bed feath­er man­u­fac­tur­er Karl Adler and his wife Em­i­lie, is ded­i­cat­ed to re­con­struct­ing her great-grand­fa­ther's ex­ten­sive art col­lec­tion. Karl Adler was mur­dered in the Dachau con­cen­tra­tion camp in 1938, and his col­lec­tion of clas­si­cal mod­ernist works was con­fis­cat­ed and is now lost. The project aims to clar­i­fy the where­abouts of at least 130 works of art, but it is al­so in­tend­ed to raise aware­ness of the ser­vices ren­dered to cul­tur­al life in Ger­many by per­se­cut­ed, for­got­ten col­lec­tors like Karl Adler.

Since 2008, the fed­er­al and state gov­ern­ments have fund­ed prove­nance re­search in­to loot­ed Nazi prop­er­ty with a to­tal of 39.6 mil­lion Eu­ros, with which 391 projects have been re­al­ized to date. The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion in Magde­burg, which was found­ed by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the states and lead­ing mu­nic­i­pal as­so­ci­a­tions on Jan. 1, 2015, is the cen­tral point of con­tact in Ger­many for is­sues re­lat­ing to un­law­ful­ly con­fis­cat­ed cul­tur­al prop­er­ty. The Foun­da­tion re­ceives in­sti­tu­tion­al fund­ing from the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia, from which it al­so re­ceives fund­ing for its projects. Ap­pli­ca­tions for longer-term projects can be sub­mit­ted by Jan­uary 1 and June 1 of each year.

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion not on­ly funds re­search projects, it al­so doc­u­ments cul­tur­al prop­er­ty loss­es in its pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble database "Lost Art" as search and find re­ports. The Foun­da­tion presents the re­sults of fund­ed re­search projects in its re­search database "Proveana" at www.proveana.de.