The Spoliation Advisory Panel considered a claim on behalf of the Estate of the late Gerta Silberberg, for a rare secular Gothic ivory relief showing a man and woman playing chess, originally from the collection of Max Silberberg, a German Jewish businessman and art collector. The ivory is now in the possession of the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford.
Following the coming to power of the Nazis in 1933, Max Silberberg and his family were forced to sell their large villa and subsequently sold the majority of their artwork, including the ivory, at auction in Berlin in 1935 and 1936.
The Panel concluded that whilst the coming to power of the Nazis must have had an adverse
effect on the family, there is considerable evidence that Max Silberberg was in personal
financial difficulties, necessitating the sale of his art collection.
Having considered all the evidence, the Panel concluded that this was neither a forced sale
nor a sale at an under value and that Max Siberberg received the proceeds of the sale. The
Panel’s final conclusion was therefore that the moral claim for the return of the ivory was
insufficiently strong to warrant a recommendation of restitution or the making of an ex gratia
The Spoliation Advisory Panel was designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as the Advisory Panel for the purposes of considering the claim. The Panel was established in 2000.