Obama Signs HEAR Act into Law, a Victory for Those Seeking Nazi-Looted Art

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tags: Nazi, Nazi Art



Holocaust survivors and their descendants will likely have an easier time reclaiming art that the Nazis stole decades ago, thanks to a new law that President Barack Obama finalized late last week. The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act erodes some of the legal technicalities that art museums have used to hold on to Nazi-looted art when faced with claims.

“The HEAR Act will end an enduring injustice for Holocaust victims and their families,” said Ronald Lauder, chairman of both the Commission for Art Recovery and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, in a statement. “For too long, governments, museums, auction houses and unscrupulous collectors allowed this egregious theft of culture and heritage to continue, imposing legal barriers like arbitrary statutes of limitations to deny families prized possessions stolen from them by the Nazis.” Lauder, a cosmetics company executive, helped support the act and testified on its behalf before Senate subcommittees in June.

Since World War II, the U.S. government has led efforts to track down an estimated 650,000 art objects stolen from Jews and other victims by the Nazis. Art restitution advocates say that some 100,000 objects remain missing. Even when survivors or descendants locate artwork and file claims, museums and other art institutions are sometimes unwilling to return them and use legal technicalities such as the statute of limitations to hold on to the art. Those practices go against guidelines that national governments and museum associations have established in recent years for dealing with such claims.




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