A Tragic Fate: Law and Ethics in the Battle Over Nazi-Looted Art

By Nick O’Donnell ’97. Ankerwycke, 2017. Available on Amazon. The organized theft of fine art by Nazi Germany has captivated worldwide attention in the last twenty years. As much as any other topic arising out of World War Two, stolen art has proven to be an issue that simply will not go away. Newly found works of art pit survivors and their heirs against museums, foreign nations, and even their own family members. These stories are enduring because they speak to one of the core tragedies of the Nazi era: how a nation at the pinnacle of fine art and culture spawned a legalized culture of theft and plunder. A Tragic Fate is the first book to seriously address the legal and ethical rules that have dictated the results of restitution claims between competing claimants to the same works of art. It provides a history of Art and Culture in German-occupied Europe, an introduction to the most significant collections in Europe to be targeted by the Nazis, and a narrative of the efforts to reclaim looted artwork in the decades following the Holocaust through profiles of some of the art world’s most famous and influential restitution cases.