The Easel

20 Years On, It’s Time to Admit Our Rules for Handling Nazi-Looted Art Have Failed

A noble idea – returning artworks stolen by the Nazis – has become “a failure”. Claimants need to establish provenance which can be a “toxic” task. They then face resistant museums keen to hang on to prized works. Even governments are uncooperative because restitution involves “looking into the often unseemly past of nations, and sometimes their heroes”.