The Spoliation Advisory Panel has published a supplementary report on a claim against the Tate Gallery for the return of an oil painting ‘Beaching a Boat, Brighton’ by John Constable.
In its previous Report dated 26 March 2014 (HC 1016), the Panel concluded that the moral strength of the Claimants’ case and the moral obligation on the Tate warranted a recommendation that the Painting should be returned by the Tate to the Claimants.
Tate accepted the Panel’s advice but received, shortly thereafter a copy of an export licence for the Painting dated 17 December 1946. The return of the Painting was halted to allow Tate to carry out further research, following which it sought the further advice of the Panel to which Ministers agreed. The task of the Panel was to consider whether the export licence and related information made it more or less likely that Baron Hatvany had recovered possession of the Painting in 1945 or 1946.
The Panel found that, despite the diligent research carried out by Tate, no links had been discovered between Baron Hatvany and the names on the export licence. They further concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, Baron Hatvany had not recovered the Painting after it was looted and that the export licence was being sought by persons who were either ignorant of its pre-1944 provenance or, knowing it, were sufficiently confident that the work would not in all likelihood be identified as formerly part of the Hatvany
collection by the procedures then in force in the Museum of Fine Art in
The Panel’s final conclusion in the matter was, therefore, that the Painting should be returned to the Claimants.
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 under Section 3(2) of the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act 2009. The Panel was established in 2000.