New York Museums Must Now Disclose if Their Art Was Looted by Nazis
According to a report from Maysoon Khan of the Associated Press, New York museums are now required to disclose to the public if any of their artwork had once been looted by Nazis during the Holocaust.
The new law signed by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul requires museums to post signage that identifies pieces that were looted by the Nazis from 1933 through 1945. According to the report, at least 600,000 art pieces were looted from Jewish people in the years leading up to and during World War II.
This law, in addition to another New York law requiring museums to report stolen works to the Art Loss Register and a United States law that gives Holocaust victims and their heirs a the opportunity to recover those lost works, has made it easier to return stolen artwork to their rightful owners. Wesley Fisher, the director of research for the Claims Conference, told Khan "This law did things legally that made it possible for people to make claims and sue. It isn't perfect, but it's better."
Fisher also said "Because the survivors of the Holocaust are a generation that is dying out, this becomes much more important. The object become much more important. The idea that students and general public should go through museums to understand where these items come from, is important."
One of the most famous museums in the world, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, reportedly had identified 53 pieces of artwork that had been stolen by Nazis, but the museum says all of the pieces were acquired after first being returned to their rightful owners.
While this law only exists in New York, other famous museums like Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and The Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles also have programs designed to identify the history of their artwork relating to Nazi-era Germany.