Nazis' looted art 'should not automatically be returned

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Museums should be allowed to keep art looted by the Nazis according to Sir Norman Rosenthal, the former exhibitions secretary of the Royal Academy.

Despite being the child of Jewish refugees, Sir Norman said he thought "history is history" and descendants "distanced by two or more generations" from the works' original owners did not have an "inalienable right" to reclaim their forbearers' property.

Writing in The Art Newspaper, Sir Norman said an agreement reached in Washington, DC, in 1998 - that committed 44 countries to try to return looted art to the owners or their descendants - should be revisited.
He wrote: "This process has been ongoing for 10 years and the items in question have often been claimed by people distanced by two or more generations from their original owners.

"I believe history is history and that you can't turn the clock back or make things good again through art. Ever since the beginning of recorded history, because of its value, art has been looted and as a result, arbitrarily distributed and disseminated throughout the world."

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Lorraine Paul - 1/14/2009

I don't believe in great art being in private hands. It belongs where there is a possibility that everyone may view it.

The rape and destruction of the Museums, galleries, archaelogical sites and so forth in Baghdad and throughout Iraq is almost as bad as the war itself.