Agreement on Gurlitt estate respects international principles on looted art
Bern, 24.11.2014 - The Federal Council acknowledges that the foundation Kunstmuseum Bern, a foundation under Swiss private law, has said it accepts the estate of Cornelius Gurlitt. It welcomes the fact that the agreement concluded expressly recognises the Washington Principles of 1998, and thus allows to continue the investigation of the provenance of the art of the Gurlitt estate. These Principles, which have been recognised by Switzerland and 43 other states, are crucial for the resolution of issues in the field of looted art. The federal government considers it to be extremely important that looted art is quickly returned to the original owners.
The foundation Kunstmuseum Bern, a foundation independent of the federal government, has concluded an agreement with Germany and the state of Bavaria regarding the estate of Cornelius Gurlitt. The agreement provides for the application of the Principles, which Switzerland and 43 other states adopted in 1998.
Only works that are not suspected of being looted art, based on an inspection by a task force established in Germany, will pass into the possession of the foundation Kunstmuseum Bern. The federal government considers it to be extremely important that possible cases of looted art are handled swiftly and transparently, in accordance with the Principles, in order to reach a just and fair outcome.
The federal government acknowledges that the foundation Kunstmuseum Bern, in close cooperation with Germany and the state of Bavaria, is committed to respecting the principles and ensuring that the liquidation of the estate is carried out in an organised framework.
Washington Principles (1998)
In December 1998 Switzerland and 43 other states adopted the Washington Principles (Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-confiscated art). In so doing, the Swiss Confederation declared that it attached great importance to addressing the issue of Nazi-confiscated art and to reaching fair solutions with regard to looted art. The Washington Principles are considered internationally to be a model of ‘best practice' in addressing the issue of looted art.
In advance of the Washington Conference in 1998, twelve Swiss art museums - including the Bern Museum of Fine Arts - drafted a joint declaration stating how they would address the issue of cultural property confiscated during the Nazi period and the Second World War.
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