The descendants of Nazi-era Jewish art dealers filed a suit in U.S. court late Monday that aims to reclaim from Germany a massive medieval art collection valued at an estimated $226 million.
The heirs have been trying for many years to retrieve the Welfenschatz collection, or Guelph Treasure, from the Prussia Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Berlin museum where the art is housed. The heirs have been identified in the suit as Alan Philipp from London and Gerald Stiebel from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Last year, a German government commission investigating the dispute said the family should not have the art back because it was not an example of “forced sale due to persecution.” However, the conclusion wasn’t binding, and the commission has since reiterated its view.
Part of the collection was sold in 1929, but the other half was sold in 1935 to the state of Prussia when Hitler was in power and leading a massive national offense to oppress and, ultimately, exterminate the Jewish community. Read more.