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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

In April Christie’s announced the second year of the Christie’s Grant for Nazi-era Provenance Research, supporting the next generation of researchers in this field. In addition, and new in 2024, Christie’s will offer five grants to undergraduates.

On 21 May, 2024, the auction house hosted a virtual roundtable to provide insights into the research areas of the 2023 Christie’s Grant for Nazi-era Provenance Research and the importance of provenance research. The 2023 grant recipients were Katharina Hüls-Valenti, Tamara Kohn, and Aurora Wilson Dyer Gough. At the webinar they provided an interesting insight into their areas of research. Katharina Hüls-Valenti explores the fate of Jewish art collections in Italy under the Fascist regime; Tammy Kohn’s research focus is on the books and items of Judaica which were given to Argentina by the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO) after the end of the war and Aurora Wilson Dyer Gough presentation was about ‘Edvard Munch: The Impact of Degenerate Classifications in Tracing Artworks’.

Last November I visited an exhibition at the Kunsthaus in Zurich entitled ‘A Future For The Past – The Bührle Collection’. Emil G. Bührle (31 August, 1890 – 26 November, 1956) was a German-born Swiss industrialist, a controversial arm manufacturer, art collector and patron. The exhibition is about the possible origins of his collection, about looted art and provenance research. ‘His collection contains many unique works of great art-historical value. At the same time, it is extremely controversial owing to the way in which it was acquired. This conflict needs to be acknowledged.’ – the museum states. 

As an art lover I found such initiatives extremely important: beyond the acknowledgement of the past it serves educational purposes, initiates constructive dialogues and encourages expressing different opinions between the public and professionals. Esteemed institutions have an important role in this.

Christie’s has a large and experienced Restitution team with researchers located in New York, London, Berlin, Brussels, and Vienna. Christie’s handling of Nazi-era art spoliation is guided by the Washington Conference Principles. As Christie’s articulates, where concerns are identified or claims received for works of art consigned to them, the auction house is committed to seeking fair and just resolutions. In 2023, the Restitution department honoured the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles with a global series of events and initiatives. (The Washington Principles, released in 1998,  includes 11 foundational principles which have provided a framework for handling research into and claims resulting from the widespread confiscation, forced sales and looting of artworks during the Nazi era.)

This April Christie’s announced the second Christie’s Grant for Nazi-era Provenance Research, supporting the next generation of provenance researchers in this field. The grant will be offered to four recipients (£5,000 each), to fund forward-thinking academic, post-graduate research into subjects related to Nazi-era provenance research and restitution and five grants of £1,000 each to undergraduates, who are studying restitution-related topics.  

The auction house is working with leading experts in the field to serve on the selection panel to identify the Grant’s recipients: Anne Webber (CBE, Co-Founder and Co-Chair Commission for Looted Art in Europe, United Kingdom), Marc Masurovsky (Co-Founder, Holocaust Art Restitution Project, United States), Jacques Schuhmacher (Senior Provenance Research Curator, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom), Claire Touchard Gimpel, The René Gimpel Archives, France), Professor Kim Oosterlinck (Professor of Finance, Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium). 

The application process is now open – the deadline for submissions is 30 June 2024

Source: press release. Photo credits: Christie’s Images Limited 2024
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