Wildenstein wins tax case on art placed in offshore trusts
12 January, 2017
French judges cleared art dealer Guy Wildenstein of charges that he concealed paintings worth hundreds of millions of dollars in offshore trusts to avoid taxes, dealing a setback to the country’s crackdown on tax dodging that spans from banks to politicians and soccer stars.
Judge Olivier Geron said Thursday that there wasn’t enough proof to rule that Wildenstein was guilty of fraudulently underestimating inheritance taxes after his father placed assets worth hundreds of millions of euros in offshore trusts before his death.
[May 15 2015 Matisse and Liebermann works returned from “Schwabing Art Trove” ]
German court approved for release the £60 million Matisse, Seated Lady to the descendents of Paul Rosenberg, who include Anne Sinclair, DSK’s ex-wife
It also ruled that Max Liebermann’s Two Riders on a Beach from 1901 will be returned to the descendants of art dealer David Friedman.
They are the first works from the Gurlitt collection to be returned to families of the original owners.. The Matisse was one of more than 400 paintings stolen by the Nazis from the “first family” of art in Paris in the ’20s and ’30s.
[May 6 2014 Hildebrand Gurlitt’s scandalous art cache: son dies, 81]
Cornelius Gurlitt died May 5, age 81, in his apartment in Schwabing, in the presence of a doctor, In April, a German court formally released the trove under a deal with Gurlitt and his lawyers.
This allowed a task force of art experts to continue examining the works to establish their province and whether some may have been stolen or extorted from their original owners, many of them Jewish, durig the Nazi era.
Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was permitted by Adolf Hitler to buy and sell confiscated works – so-called ‘degenerate art’ – to fund Nazi activities. German investigators last year found hundreds of works, including paintings by Picasso, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. Further pictures were found later in Salzburg, Austria.The hoard was given an estimated value of €1bn.
The Lost Art Database is run by the Koordinierungsstelle Magdeburg, Germany’s central office for the documentation of lost cultural property. It was set up jointly by the Government and the Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany and registers cultural objects which as a result of persecution under the Nazi dictatorship and the Second World War were relocated, moved or seized, especially from Jewish owners.
“Schwabing Art Trove” – Agreement between the Free State of Bavaria, the Federal Government and Cornelius Gurlitt
Joint Press Release 04/07/14
Representatives of the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice and of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media have reached an agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt and Christoph Edel, the lawyer who has been appointed by the court to look after Mr Gurlitt’s affairs, on what to do with the artworks of the “Schwabing Art Trove”. In the agreement, in the negotiation of which defence counsel Prof. Dr Tido Park and Derek Setz also participated, Mr Gurlitt stated his willingness to allow provenance research on a voluntary basis once the works are released from police custody. Mr Gurlitt will allow the Task Force to continue researching the provenance of those works in the trove suspected of having been confiscated from their owners by the Nazis or of being works the Nazis considered “degenerate art”. To this end, these artworks will remain in secure custody and on the website http://www.lostart.de. However, the Task Force aims to complete the main substance of its provenance research within a year.
Christie’s auction house recently announced that the sale of government-owned artwrks would go ahead in June, despite legal action to prevent the sale of the works and instead have them classified as national heritage. The Portuguese Parliament was set to debate the issue on March 26.
Amid an initial outcry, Christie’s canceled the auction in February, citing legal concerns over whether Portugal was entitled to sell the works.
Protests in Portugal over the planned sale of 85 paintings by Catalan abstract artist Joan Miro, owned by a nationalized bank, turned out to be effective. The auction house Christie’s, which was supposed to sell the works in London, pulled the lots from its Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist sale. Christie’s valued the collection at about $50 million, and art lovers and museum professionals in Portugal said the amount was laughable compared to both Portugal’s total debt of more than $270 billion and the collection’s value as a national treasure. Politicians opposed to the sale took the government to court, and though they failed to obtain an outright ban, a judge ruled that the paintings had been sent to London without proper authorization. Christie’s did not want the risk of further action and will keep the works in storage until something can be decided. The Portuguese government has not asked for the collection to be sent back and is determined to sell it.
Gruetters also said there were plans to expand the government-backed mediation panel that now hears disputes about artworks of contested provenance, the eight-member Limbach Commission.
The body, which has former German president Richard von Weizsaecker on its board along with a former high court judge, historians and experts, can make recommendations but no binding rulings.
“I can certainly imagine expanding the Limbach Commission and including representatives of Jewish organisations,” Gruetters told the newspaper.
She also said that the Gurlitt case and the international criticism it sparked had been a wake-up call for many German art collectors.
“Genuine and responsible Germans were, I believe, rather sensitised by this case,” she told the daily. “There are private persons who are re-examining their collections.”
Funding for provenance research of art suspected to have been stolen will be doubled, the new minister of state for culture, Monika Gruetters, was quoted as saying in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.
[December 9 2013]
Sitting Woman, found among more than 1,400 artworks in a recluse’s Munich flat, is thought to have belonged to Miss Sinclair’s maternal grandfather, the late French art dealer Paul Rosenberg, taken by the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce (the Nazi art-theft organisation) from the bank vault. However, “degenerate art” was ‘legally’ seized by the Nazis. This law was never abolished and still applies in today’s Federal Republic. New York’s Museum of Modern Art and others have bought such art.
Miss Sinclair, 65, helped pay for her ex-husband’s defence when the womanising International Monetary Fund chief was accused of being a rapist. They divorced in March.
Seated Woman, 1942, probably by Henri Matisse, was taken by the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce (the Nazi art-theft organisation) from the bank vault of the Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg. Uwe Hartmann, the head of the institute for museum research at the Berlin State Museums, suggests that Hildebrand Gurlitt bought many of the works from Goebbels’s ministry of propaganda. “According to the legal situation at the time, he was the rightful owner [of these works],”
After the war, Gurlitt said that all of his business papers were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden in 1945. The Allied tribunal charged with “de-Nazification”, which, after 1945, considered how close to the Nazi regime a person had been before issuing any work permits, classified him as “less involved”, and he was able to continue his career.
Two different categories of work can be found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s scandalous cache: first, the “degenerate art” that was removed from German museums by the Nazis and subsequently confiscated by law in 1938. This law was never abolished and still applies in today’s Federal Republic. The victorious Allies (specifically the US military government) and, later, the newly founded Federal Republic wanted to save private collectors and the art market from endless legal battles over works acquired during the Nazi regime. Even before 1945, much “degenerate art” made its way into museums and collections. The Museum of Modern Art in New York was able to acquire outstanding works formerly in the possession of German museums, as were the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Kunstmuseum Basel, the latter mainly at the infamous auction in Lucerne, Switzerland, on 30 June 1939.
The other works fall into the category of “stolen art”—treasures that were either stolen from their mainly Jewish owners or acquired through pressure and threats. So far, it is unclear how the works in Gurlitt’s possession came together: through purchase or exchange, lawfully or unlawfully, and whether they are owned or just held in trust. To determine this in individual cases will be hard, though no more difficult than in other restitution cases where German public museums are concerned. Hildebrand Gurlitt’s claim that his business papers had been destroyed turned out to be a lie: the documents were found in crates in his son’s apartment. Perhaps they will help to reconstruct the ownership history of individual pieces.
[Jasnuary 20 2012]
Can you be a feminist and unconditional support to her husband? Anne Sinclair responds strongly to Anne-Cécile Sarfati, deputy editor of ELLE, who conducted the interview: “unconditional support does not exist. The argument is if we decided to support. Nobody knows what happens in the privacy of couples and I deny anyone the right to judge mine. I feel free of my decisions, my actions, I decided my life independently. ”
Throughout the series DSK, women, including feminists, have criticized her attitude. “What women have felt disappointed with me, I am sorry to say, but that’s their problem! “Says the wife of former IMF chief. “I do not understand them, they express the views and feelings, but I listen to the idea that one can judge the attitude of someone in his private life completely foreign to me.” She added:” I claim my choices. That people take ownership of my life unbearable “Faced with the emotion and sometimes indignation, caused by the affair in France, Anne Sinclair responded:” I understand that this case has caused a stir and that ‘it is treated extensively. But I find that on this occasion all the levees that protected privacy have been breached. ” from Elle in French