02 June 2011

Memorable quotes from US restitution officials, 1943-1955

Francis Henry Taylor
Source: Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
“Public institutions disposing of trust funds could not very well connive in the liquidation of the artistic patrimony of Europe and act as public receivers of stolen goods.” 
Francis Henry Taylor, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in a New York Times op-ed piece September 19, 1943

“…. People with looted objects in their possession are subject to federal law governing the transportation of stolen property over state lines.”
—July 23, 1946/Lieutenant Karasik, State Department official, regarding importation of art from occupied areas by US personnel

S. Lane Faison
Source: Williams Archives and Special Collections
“…[the] most barefaced type of looting and …everyone who took part in [these exchanges] must forfeit not only what he received (because that was stolen goods) but also what he gave (because he had knowledge of what he was receiving).”
—June 1, 1951/Lane Faison, Property Division, High Commission of Germany (HICOG), Munich Central Collecting Point, commenting on the exchanges conducted by Hermann Goering and the ERR to trade stolen Impressionists for more acceptable cultural assets.

“The restitution of looted art is an obligation of this Government under international law."
—May 19, 1955/Ardelia Hall, Arts and Monuments Advisor, US Department of State