A Tough Initial Situation for the Person Who Wrote the Guidelines on Nazi Looted Art

Stella McDaniel

Handful of folks have completed more to advance the cause of men and women trying to get to recover house shed to the Nazis in Planet War II than Stuart E. Eizenstat.

As a diplomat and attorney, Mr. Eizenstat, 79, has recommended five U.S. administrations, such as that of President Biden, on Holocaust challenges. He has negotiated with European governments and corporations, recovering far more than $8 billion for Holocaust survivors and families, and served generate the landmark Washington Rules on returning looted artwork, a treaty now applied all around the planet to “expeditiously” promote “just and fair solutions” to restitution claims.

“No self-respecting government, art supplier, personal collector, museum or auction dwelling need to trade in or have art stolen by the Nazis,” Mr. Eizenstat mentioned in an essay in 2019.

But, as a law firm, Mr. Eizenstat experienced under no circumstances gotten associated in an person restitution circumstance. That modified a few months back when he agreed to aid a childhood close friend whose family is staying sued by the heirs of a Jewish pair whose art collection was seized by the Nazis.

Given that 2015, kinfolk of Ludwig and Margret Kainer have pursued a assert for a painting by Pissarro, the Impressionist learn, that was the moment a part of the Kainers’ collection. Past May well, the heirs sued the family members of Gerald D. Horowitz, and in the ensuing weeks Mr. Eizenstat, a childhood pal of Mr. Horowitz’s spouse, Pearlann Horowitz, agreed to get the job done on the family’s behalf.

“Different promises to artworks that altered palms all through Environment War II have various deserves some are very clear minimize and some are not,” Mr. Eizenstat said in a statement to The New York Instances last week. “Our investigation of the historical facts concerning this portray has certain us that this is fewer than a apparent slash declare that raises sophisticated historical queries and includes contradictory details.”

Mr. Eizenstat mentioned Mr. Horowitz, who bought the portray from a New York vendor in 1995, had acted in fantastic faith, devoid of any perception there was a cloud on its title. He said his efforts to get to an amicable settlement were in keeping with his life’s work and that both of those sides experienced achieved an agreement in theory.

“I thought,” he said in his assertion, “I was especially capable to undertake the process of getting a ‘just and honest solution’ to both equally sides, as contemplated by the Washington Rules of which I was a principal negotiator.”

Even though Mr. Eizenstat’s customers are on their own Jewish, the optics of his surfacing for the to start with time in a restitution circumstance, not on the aspect of claimants, but of defendants, have surprised some gurus in the industry.

“I feel it’s abnormal that he is showing such confined guidance for the claimants,” reported Lynn H. Nicholas, a historian and skilled on Nazi looting whose 1994 ebook, “The Rape of Europa,” is credited with drawing notice to the scope of the challenge. “But I don’t know all the aspects and he might have good rationale.”

The painting, “The Anse des Pilotes, Le Havre,” an oil on canvas perform from 1903, depicts a harbor scene and was section of the Kainers’ selection when the pair remaining Germany in 1932, at some point settling in France, in accordance to courtroom papers. Not able as Jews to properly return after the Nazis grabbed energy, the Kainers stayed absent, and in their absence, their earth-course art collection and other furnishings were seized by the Berlin tax business, in accordance to the accommodate filed in federal courtroom in Ga by 15 Kainer heirs.

In 1935, extra than 400 Kainer belongings, such as the Pissarro and 31 other paintings, ended up bought at auction in Berlin, the suit suggests, to spend a Reich flight tax, a economical instrument that was normally used to punish Jews who fled the country. In 1963, a German appeals courtroom ruled that the tax levied on the Kainers had been discriminatory, according to James Palmer, founder of Mondex Corporation, a business that pursues restitution claims and is representing the Kainer heirs. In addition, the Kainer heirs have a webpage from the 1935 auction catalog that references the painting.

The painting’s path for the subsequent 60 several years is not totally clear, though it was owned for some time, Mr. Palmer states, by a German industrialist who experienced bought it at the auction.

In 1995, Mr. Horowitz obtained it from Achim Moeller Wonderful Artwork in New York, but only soon after examining with a highly regarded database that tracks looted art. The painting was not listed.

In 2014, the Horowitz family members lent the perform for display at the Higher Museum of Art in Atlanta, all-around which time it was recognized by Mondex, which was presently doing work with the Kainer heirs. The Kainers experienced died in the 1960s with no little ones, and their recent heirs boasting the portray are the young children and grandchildren of cousins.

The heirs sought restitution of the portray in 2015, and introduced the Horowitz spouse and children with evidence that, by 2005, the painting experienced been outlined in the Pissarro catalog raisonné as plundered “from L. Kainer,” in accordance to the court docket papers.

But Mr. Palmer explained the Horowitzes did not want to shift forward with conversations due to the fact they ended up unsure about who had been the rightful heirs. (At the time, a foundation established by Swiss bank officers had been founded to serve as the heirs to the Kainers and Margret’s father. But in 2015, a German court identified that the Kainer family members, not the foundation, ended up the couple’s real heirs.)

Far more a short while ago, the Kainer relatives have introduced added proof to assistance their assert, in accordance to their court docket papers, such as documents demonstrating the Kainer couple experienced registered the get the job done as looted with the French Section of Reparations and Restitutions, which printed a record of the perform, alongside with a photograph, in 1949.

And auction homes have treated a number of other paintings from the Kainers’ selection that experienced been offered along with the Pissarro in 1935 as looted residence. In 2009, for case in point, Christie’s bought Edgar Degas’s “Danseuses,” once owned by the Kainers, for practically $11 million under the phrases of a restitution agreement. (At the time, the agreement regarded the Swiss foundation, not the kin, as the heirs.)

Mr. Eizenstat commenced advising the Horowitzes someday following the Kainer heirs took their assert to court very last spring, in accordance to Mr. Palmer, and is assisting out the lawyer on the scenario, Joseph A. Patella.

Mr. Palmer reported he was a little intimidated when Mr. Eizenstat joined the negotiations, which are remaining led by the Kainer heirs’ lawyer, Jason Carter, grandson of previous President Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Eizenstat labored in the Carter administration as chief domestic policy adviser and served as deputy secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration. His numerous awards incorporate France’s Legion of Honor. Final year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum awarded him its maximum honor for doing the job “tirelessly to safe a evaluate of justice for Holocaust survivors.”

“He is dealing with governments and policy and dealing on a substantially wider macro amount,” Mr. Palmer claimed, “so for him to be included in a incredibly private stage, it was a surprise.”

Mr. Eizenstat said in his assertion that he joined the hard work in part simply because Mr. Horowitz is suffering from Alzheimer’s illness and unable to defend himself.

“The Horowitz relatives are pillars of the Atlanta Jewish and secular group, with a sterling file of philanthropic guidance for a huge wide range of charitable businesses, which includes the Atlanta Holocaust Survivor Help Fund,” Mr. Eizenstat claimed in the statement.

A single sticking stage in the negotiations, Mr. Eizenstat mentioned, experienced been that Ludwig Kainer “appears to have produced knowingly untrue claims about the circumstances of the alleged confiscation of the Pissarro, and had total awareness of who possessed it just after the war.”

He did not say what all those phony claims were being. Nevertheless, Mr. Palmer acknowledged that Mr. Kainer had misled French authorities all over the time he very first submitted his claim by reporting that the portray experienced been shed in France. Mr. Palmer defended Mr. Kainer’s decision, stating that at the time Mr. Kainer couldn’t find the money for a attorney to file a declare in Germany, and didn’t believe that he would receive justice there. He also did not know the painting’s place, which Mr. Palmer explained was required to file a claim with German authorities.

Though the negotiations look to have been productive, there were being some bumps in the highway. Past week, prior to an settlement was attained, Mr. Eizenstat experienced said the settlement talks with Mr. Carter had been “advancing in a productive fashion until finally this stunning breach of have confidence in and inappropriate perform by Mondex, producing sensational allegations to the press about confidential settlement negotiations.”

Mr. Eizenstat also took observe in his statement that Mondex is a for-income corporation, saying, “It is nicely recognized that Mondex acts and receives payment from the Holocaust promises of other individuals.”

Mr. Palmer mentioned that some part of the costs the corporation collects should go towards covering expenses it incurs in pursuing restitution claims, “which we do with passion and satisfaction.”

He mentioned that there experienced been no arrangement to manage any confidentiality about the talks. “Certainly a ‘just and fair’ resolution needs candor and transparency,” Mr. Palmer claimed. But, he stated, extra vital is that the agreement in theory “is a extremely productive end result for all of the functions involved.”

Mr. Palmer additional that in the course of the negotiations he had instructed Mr. Eizenstat it was an honor to function with him. “I told him that we would not have been in existence if not for him, so I thanked him,” he mentioned. “I am very cognizant of the contribution he has designed to the rest of the world.”

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