The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on June 2 to hear the case about a German art museum and whether or not a treasure trove, known as the “Guelph Treasure,” should be returned to the heirs of four Jewish art dealers in Germany.

The dealers have argued that they were forced to sell it to the Nazi-controlled Prussian government in 1935 in what they called a “genocidal taking.”

The collection, worth around $225 million, consists of medieval church relics and was owned by the House of Guelph in 1671 until it was sold to a group of art dealers in 1929. The items currently sit in the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Applied Arts Museum) in Berlin.

In a May 26 filing, U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued that the heirs have failed to make the case—in accordance with the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act—that the collection was confiscated “in violation of international law” in that the Nazi seizure was domestic. That law includes limitations as to whether a foreign sovereign nation may be sued in U.S. courts, either state or federal.

Francisco also noted that although the 2016 Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act “demonstrates Congress’s concern with art seizures that occurred as part of the Holocaust,” that law doesn’t “create a cause of action in U.S. courts” for the heirs’ case.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the fall after the justices recess for the summer.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.