Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, July 3, 2020

Supreme Court agrees to hear Nazi art case

F588778573e24a1a8afb178bbd468f4cOn Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving the descendants of a group of Jewish art dealers from Germany who say their ancestors were forced to sell a collection of religious art to the Nazi government in 1935. 

The justices will decide whether the dispute involving foreign citizens suing a foreign government belongs in U.S. courts. A lower court allowed the case to go forward, but Germany asked the Supreme Court to weigh in. 

Justices also took a case involving Hungarian nationals suing Hungary over property taken from them during World War II. 

In the case involving Germany, the group of people who sued are descendant of art dealers who in 1929 together bought a collection of religious artwork from the 11th to 15th centuries known as the Guelph Treasure. In Germany, the collection is known as the Welfenschatz. An appeals court in Washington allowed the case to go forward in 2018. 

The Justices are expected to hear both cases sometime after their summer break. It is not clear whether the justices will hear the cases in their courtroom or by telephone because of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Nicholas O'Donnell, who represents the heirs of the art dealers, said that: "Germany seeks to eliminate recourse for Nazi-looted art and the Court will have the chance to answer this question of critical importance for Holocaust victims."

While Jonathan Freiman, one of Germany's lawyers said, "We're glad that the Supreme Court will hear the case and look forward to explaining why this dispute doesn't belong in a U.S. court." 

See, Supreme Court agrees to hear Nazi art case, The Associated Press, July 2, 2020. 


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