New York museums are now required to disclose artwork looted by Nazis

Aug 21, 2022, 1:25 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2022, 11:11 am
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: The recovered Impressionist painting "Two Women in a Garden," painted ...
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12: The recovered Impressionist painting "Two Women in a Garden," painted in 1919 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is displayed at a news conference on September 12, 2018 in New York City. The work of art originally belonged to Sylvie Sulitzer's grandfather Alfred Weinberger and was stolen by the Nazis in Paris during the World War II. The only living heir, Sylvie Sulitzer became aware of the work in 2013, when the painting had been listed for sale at Christie's in New York. With the Help of the FBI and the United States attorney's office in Manhattan the painting was finally returned to her at a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Museums in New York will now be required to disclose which artworks were stolen in Europe during the Nazi era, thanks to new legislation signed last week by Governor Kathy Hochul.

The law forms part of a package of legislation designed to honor and support Holocaust survivors, according to a news release from the New York Department of Financial Services.

Nazis stole and confiscated hundreds of thousands of works of art during World War II, mostly from Jewish communities. The new law mandates that museums “prominently place a placard or other signage” on the artworks.

“More than 600,000 paintings were pilfered from Jewish people during World War II, enriching the Nazi regime while eliminating Jewish culture,” said Jack Kliger, CEO at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, in a statement shared with CNN.

“For years, many of these paintings have been on display at institutions, yet without any acknowledgment of their origin,” he said. “This legislation remedies that and allows institutions in New York to honor those whose lives were lost and whose personal possessions were stolen for profit.”

Artworks stolen by Nazis continue to face contentious public debates over their ownership.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court heard arguments over a Jewish family’s right to a French impressionist painting, confiscated by Nazis in 1939 before eventually ending up in a public museum in Spain. In 2019, the FBI recovered a painting from the Arkell Museum in New York because it was stolen by Nazis from a Jewish family in 1933.

Additionally, several museums have taken steps to examine the dark history of some of their objects in the past years.

In 2000, the Museum of Modern Art launched the Provenance Research Project to identify stolen artworks. The museum is home to around 800 paintings that “were or could have been in Continental Europe during the Nazi era,” according to a statement, although the museum says most were either acquired directly from artists or otherwise have ownership records showing they were not stolen by Nazis.

And New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage has held restitution ceremonies to celebrate the return of Nazi-stolen artworks to their rightful owners.

In addition to the new requirements for museums, the legislation also includes measures for improving Holocaust education in New York schools and the publication of a list of financial institutions that waive fees for Holocaust reparations.

Greg Schneider, executive vice president at the Claims Conference, a nonprofit which helps provide compensation and aid for Holocaust survivors, tells CNN that the three laws are part of a much-needed effort to improve New York’s Holocaust education. A survey of Holocaust awareness among millennials and Gen X published by the organization in 2020 found that New York ranked 41st out of 50 states.

The conference is “very pleased” with the legislation, Schneider says.

“It’s very important that there is a series of legislation that help survivors and also promote education around their experiences,” he said.

For Schneider, the education bill, which will require an audit to determine whether New York schools are meeting the state’s mandates for Holocaust education, and the museums bill are part of the same project to improve New Yorkers’ awareness about the impact of the Holocaust.

“We learn history from looking at artwork,” he said. “The history of what happened to this piece is part of it. It’s an opportunity to open up to another audience, another perspective, on the history of the Holocaust.”

“Not only was [the Holocaust] the largest, most sophisticated industrial genocide of Jewish people, it was also the greatest theft in history of the world,” said Schneider. The scale of the theft of “property, of art, insurance policy, bank accounts, all types of possessions, and Jewish cultural objects, is mind-boggling.”

He notes that the bill will also help claimants seeking the return of artworks stolen from their families by Nazis.

“It continues to put pressure on museums to do the research, to establish the chain of ownership,” he said.

While the legislation represents a step forward for museums, Schneider says that many pieces of art stolen by Nazis are in private hands, a kind of “black hole” that often evades regulation.

“The commonality of these three pieces of legislation is that they shed light on important aspects of ongoing issues for the support of survivors and the education about the Holocaust,” Schneider said. “It’s not new for New York state to have Holocaust education, but this puts pressure on school districts to support their teachers, and figure out what’s going wrong. It’s not new, the idea that museums should do provenance research, but it puts additional pressure on museums and says this is important, continue to do this, we haven’t forgotten.”

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A masked suspect is seen lighting a Molotov cocktail in front of Temple Ner Tamid in a still image ...
Celina Tebor, Isa Kaufman-Geballe and Zoe Sottile

Man throws Molotov cocktail at New Jersey synagogue in arson attempt, police say

A man threw a Molotov cocktail at a New Jersey synagogue in an arson attempt on Sunday morning, police and the synagogue said.
1 day ago
Annie Wersching, seen here in 2019, has passed away. (Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)...
Chuck Johnston and Alli Rosenbloom

Annie Wersching, ’24’ actress, passes away at 45

Actress Annie Wersching passed away of cancer early Sunday morning, her publicist, Craig Schneider told CNN. Wersching was 45 years old.
1 day ago
Authorities in Grants Pass, Oregon, are warning that suspect Benjamin Obadiah Foster, 36, may be tr...
Andy Rose and Nouran Salahieh

Oregon man suspected of kidnapping, beating a woman may be using dating apps to evade police

Oregon police are warning that a man suspected of kidnapping a woman and beating her unconscious may now be using dating apps to evade capture or find potential new victims.
1 day ago
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 18: U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy speaks during the United States Conf...
Allison Gordon and Pamela Brown

Surgeon General says 13 is ‘too early’ to join social media

US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms.
1 day ago
Saginaw Police K9 Cigan sits behind a table with evidence found inside a stolen car. (WNEM)...
Anna Kathman

Stolen vehicle, multiple drugs located by Michigan K9 officer

Saginaw Police said two suspects are behind bars after a stolen vehicle was located during a traffic stop by a K9 officer.
1 day ago
A 29-year old woman has been arrested after allegedly posing as a teenager and attending classes at...
Kiely Westhoff and Zoe Sottile, CNN

29-year-old woman posed as high school teen facing charges in New Jersey, police say

A 29-year-old New Jersey woman is facing charges over claims she used false government documents in a ploy to pose as a teenager at a high school, according to police.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
New York museums are now required to disclose artwork looted by Nazis