Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Responsibilities and specific tasks of the German Lost Art Foundation

The German Lost Art Foundation is the national and international contact partner for all matters pertaining to the illegal seizure of cultural assets in Germany in the 20th century. The main activities of the Foundation focus on cultural assets confiscated by the National Socialists through persecution, particularly those from former Jewish owners (so-called “Nazi confiscated art”). The Washington Principles of 1998 serve as the basis of its efforts in this field, to which end Germany officially pledged to fulfil its historic and moral obligations in a Common Declaration in 1999. The Foundation is also responsible for investigating the war-related removal or relocation of cultural assets (so-called “looted art”) as well as the loss of cultural assets under Soviet occupation and in the GDR. The Foundation supports provenance research with research grants and provides information on reports of lost and found cultural assets via its open-access “Lost Art” database.
The German federal government, the Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany and the three national associations of local authorities founded the German Lost Art Foundation on 1 January 2015 as an incorporated foundation under civil law with headquarters in Magdeburg.

Specific tasks

Strengthening and expanding provenance research

By providing independent financial assistance to research projects, the Foundation promotes the study of:

  • The history of artworks and other museum items, books and archived materials
  • The fates of the victims
  • The roles of all other active participants

The Foundation is dedicated to:

  • Creating the conditions necessary for basic research
  • Cooperating with university and non-university research institutions
  • Establishing training programmes for provenance researchers as an integral component of Art History
  • Supporting continuing education measures for museum staff

Building national and international transparency

  • Documenting lost and found notices by German and international users via the “Lost Art” database
  • Documenting research findings
  • Publishing academic and scientific works
  • Coordinating and staging conferences and events
  • Conducting press and public relations activities

Advising and networking

  • Providing advice and support to public and private institutions and individuals in order to achieve “fair and just solutions”
  • Mediating and forwarding inquiries to the responsible federal, state and municipal authorities
  • Collaborating with non-profit provenance research organisations in Germany
  • Supporting the independent “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”