Corporate report

Spoliation Advisory Panel report: porcelain at the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum

This document contains the following information: Spoliation Advisory Panel report: porcelain at the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

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Spoliation Advisory Panel report: porcelain at the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum

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This document contains the following information: Report of the Spoliation Advisory Panel in respect of pieces of porcelain now in the possession of the British Museum, London and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

This report deals with a claim by Mrs Bertha L. Gutmann of Caldwell, New Jersey, the niece and sole heir of Heinrich Rothberger concerning two pieces of porcelain which, it was asserted, were seized from him in Vienna in 1938 by the Gestapo. The pieces now reside in the British Museum, London and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Having examined evidence provided by the claimant and the Museums, the Panel concludes that the pieces were obtained legally by the museums. The Panel then has to give due weight to the moral strength of the claimant’s case. It concludes that in both cases the claimant has a strong moral right to the items. Restitution of the British Museum piece is debarred by section 5 of the British Museum Act 1963, so the Panel recommends, as agreed by the parties, that the government makes an ex gratia payment of £18,000 and that the British Museum acknowledges the history of the piece whenever it is published or exhibited. The Panel recommends that the Fitzwilliam piece should be returned to the claimant.

This paper was laid before Parliament in response to a legislative requirement or as a Return to an Address and was ordered to be printed by the House of Commons.

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