“Lost Art” website relaunched

The web­site of the most ex­ten­sive database world­wide for the search for Nazi-loot­ed art and so-called tro­phy art on www.lostart.de/en was re­designed in a more con­tem­po­rary style and with clear­er struc­tures.

Lost Art has a fresh face: The web­site of the most ex­ten­sive database world­wide for the search for Nazi-loot­ed art and so-called tro­phy art on www.lostart.de/en was re­designed in a more con­tem­po­rary style and with clear­er struc­tures. It al­so of­fers new func­tion­al­i­ties, in par­tic­u­lar bet­ter search­ing and fil­ter­ing op­tions to fa­cil­i­tate the search for pos­si­bly loot­ed ob­jects. “We aim for ac­cess to be as low-thresh­old as pos­si­ble, so that es­pe­cial­ly the de­scen­dants of for­mer­ly per­se­cut­ed Jew­ish cit­i­zens can search for their prop­er­ty more eas­i­ly and re­ceive at least some com­pen­sa­tion, if that is pos­si­ble at all”, states Gilbert Lupfer, Ex­ec­u­tive Board of the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion.

Dur­ing the Na­tion­al So­cial­ist regime, mil­lions of cul­tur­al prop­er­ty ob­jects were stolen, and Jew­ish cit­i­zens in par­tic­u­lar were the vic­tims of ex­pro­pri­a­tion, ex­tor­tion, “Aryaniza­tion”, and theft. The Lost Art Database op­er­at­ed by the Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion doc­u­ments cul­tur­al as­sets seized from their own­ers be­tween 1933 and 1945 due to per­se­cu­tion (“Nazi-loot­ed art”), or as­sets where seizure can­not be ex­clud­ed. In ad­di­tion, Lost Art records cul­tur­al as­sets seized or trans­ferred as a con­se­quence of the Sec­ond World War (in Ger­man re­ferred to as “Beutegut”). The ob­jec­tive is to con­nect searchers and find­ers: pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als and in­sti­tu­tions can record cul­tur­al prop­er­ty ei­ther iden­ti­fied or sus­pect­ed as hav­ing been loot­ed or trans­ferred.

The database was launched in 2000 as a con­se­quence of the in­ter­na­tion­al­ly agreed “Wash­ing­ton Prin­ci­ples” (1998) on han­dling Nazi-loot­ed art. Ger­many had com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment the di­rec­tive in the “Joint Dec­la­ra­tion” (1999), which among oth­er ini­tia­tives in­clud­ed the cre­ation of a pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble search and found list­ing. Lost Art now holds al­most 180,000 records de­scribed in de­tail and sev­er­al mil­lion records of ob­jects in sum­ma­ry form, from in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als both in and out­side Ger­many. Each month, an av­er­age of 9,000 users ac­cess the database world­wide, which is free of charge, with 120,000 pageviews per month.

In many cas­es Lost Art con­tribut­ed to the re­turn of for­mer­ly stolen ob­jects to their orig­i­nal own­ers or their heirs. A promi­nent ex­am­ple in the cur­rent year was the resti­tu­tion of the “Por­trait of a La­dy as Pomona” by Nico­las de Largillière from the hold­ings of the Dres­den Gemälde­ga­lerie Alte Meis­ter, which could be re­turned to the heirs of the Jew­ish banker and art col­lec­tor Jules Strauss. Their re­search on Lost Art had led them to a Found-Ob­ject Re­port by the mu­se­um for this paint­ing. Apart from such pre­cious art ob­jects the database al­so con­tains com­mer­cial prints, cut­lery, or books – me­men­toes which have pri­mar­i­ly emo­tion­al val­ue: “Each ob­ject is im­por­tant”, says Ex­ec­u­tive Board Gilbert Lupfer, “since even an ob­ject ap­par­ent­ly with­out val­ue tells the sto­ry of a per­se­cut­ed in­di­vid­u­al or a fam­i­ly”.

The web­site: The Lost Art Database can be ac­cessed on www.lostart.de/en. The site al­so in­cludes the gen­er­al prin­ci­ples for the reg­is­tra­tion and dele­tion of re­ports. The re­launch does not af­fect the prin­ci­ples, the records, or the struc­ture of the ex­ist­ing database.

If you do not (yet) see the new de­sign, check the tech­ni­cal set­tings in your brows­er.

The Foun­da­tion:

The Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion was found­ed on 1 Jan­uary 2015 in Magde­burg by the Ger­man fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the re­gion­al Län­der, and the lead­ing mu­nic­i­pal as­so­ci­a­tions as a cen­tral point of con­tact in Ger­many for en­quiries about un­law­ful­ly seized cul­tur­al prop­er­ty. The in­sti­tu­tion is spon­sored by the Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia, who al­so funds its project grants for re­search. The main fo­cus of the Foun­da­tion is on cul­tur­al as­sets seized as a re­sult of Na­tion­al So­cial­ist per­se­cu­tion, es­pe­cial­ly Jew­ish prop­er­ty. In ad­di­tion, the Foun­da­tion ac­tiv­i­ties cov­er the ar­eas of cul­tur­al goods and col­lec­tions from colo­nial con­texts, war-re­lat­ed trans­fers of cul­tur­al prop­er­ty and ex­pro­pri­a­tion of cul­tur­al as­sets in the So­vi­et zone of oc­cu­pa­tion and the GDR. In­for­ma­tion on the Foun­da­tion can be ac­cessed on: www.kul­turgutver­luste.de

Ger­man Lost Art Foun­da­tion

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