Jewish Heirs’ Worldwide Fight to Reclaim Nazi-Stolen Art Plays Out in Manhattan Courts

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Alumnus Raymond Dowd ’91 was featured in a New York Law Journal article about his efforts to reclaim Nazi-looted art for his clients.

At the trial level, they won summary judgment, and according to the heirs’ attorney, Raymond Dowd, a Dunnington Bartholow & Miller partner specializing in intellectual property and art cases, the case is being followed by the Austrian legal community and by others in Europe and the U.S. who will look to it—once fully decided—for guidance.

Dowd, one of those publicly criticizing the German foundation, is now claiming that its “unthinkable” removal decision is damaging his clients’ separate legal effort in Austria over Schiele works there—a battle he said is meandering through an Austrian legal system with “no transparency, no due process, no right to appeal.”

“It has a strong negative affect,” he said in a recent interview. “[The foundation] is essentially using this database to help launder stolen art.”

“I think Germany is showing its defiance of the New York courts,” he said.

“Our policy is to undo Nazi spoliation, but throughout Eastern Europe and Western Europe they have set up roadblocks to frustrate the claims of Holocaust victims,” Dowd said, adding that “the U.S. State Department has charged U.S. courts with righting these wrongs and has lifted all limits on their jurisdiction.”

“And Nazi-looted art is a New York story,” Dowd said, “We are the museum capital of the world [and]we have to show leadership.”

Dowd said Morgenthau’s decision to go after “Dead City III” in the hours before it would to be shipped to Vienna was a “truly historic moment” that became a driving force behind the Jewish heirs’ movement today.

“He was taking on the power structure. It literally changed the entire legal and diplomatic landscape,” Dowd said.

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