The Spoliation Advisory Panel advises claimants and institutions on what might be an appropriate course of action to take following a claim.
The claimants are the descendants of Herbert Gutmann, a prominent German banker and art collector who sold The Coronation of the Virgin in 1934 to pay off business debts. The painting is now in the possession of the Samuel Courtauld Trust. The claimants submitted that some of Gutmann’s debts were fabricated by the Nazis and others were the result of Nazi persecution in his business affairs.
The Spoliation Advisory Panel concluded that, whereas there was some evidence that Gutmann had suffered from anti-semitic persecution under the Nazi regime, it was only a subsidiary and causally insignificant factor in his decision to sell his collection. The Panel also found that he achieved a fair price for the sale of the painting.
The Panel concluded that the claimants’ moral case was therefore weak and that the painting should not be restituted to the family.
The Spoliation Advisory Panel was designated by the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport as the Advisory Panel for the purposes of considering the claim under Section 3(2) of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009. The Panel’s ruling has been endorsed by the Government.