Gurlitt Related Claim Brought in DC Court

Posted on: March 12, 2014 by

The first claim has been filed in relation to the artworks seized from the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt. The plaintiff is David Toren, a descendent of David Friedmann, the wealthy art collector from Breslau (now Wroclaw), who was persecuted as a Jew in Nazi Germany and died in 1942.

The claim, dated 5th March 2014, seeks the return of Max Liebermann’s ‘Two Riders’, amongst other unspecified works, referred to only in the claim as ‘other artworks from the Friedmann Collection’. Interestingly enough, the claim is not against Gurlitt, but names the State of Bavaria and the Republic of Germany as co-defendants in the action, and seeks the restitution of the works currently held by the authorities following their seizure from Gurlitt.

Even more interesting, the complaint itself was filed in the US before the D.C. District Court, relying on arguments of bailment, conversion, replevin, constructive trust and others. There is a whiff of de Csepel to the proceedings, a 2011 claim initially brought before the same court against Hungary for the return of the Herzog collection.