Issues of Ownership

Over the course of history, objects have found their way into the Foundation’s holdings whose origins have not been completely clarified. The Foundation aims to establish who owns these objects.

The National Socialist policy of persecution and the Second World War are the primary reasons why there are works of art and books in the collections today that were seized illegally from their previous owners. If the appropriate requirements are fulfilled, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) returns works to Jewish pre-war owners or their rightful heirs. The Foundation also returns objects in other cases. The condition is that they are clearly not the property of the Foundation and the legal owner has to be identified.

Dealing with Cultural Assets Looted by the National Socialists

Zeichnung „Olivenbäume vor dem Alpillengebirge“ von Vincent van Gogh
© bpk / Jörg P. Anders

The National Socialists systematically took art and books from those they persecuted. The Foundation searches for just and fair solutions based on the Washington Principles for looted assets that ended up in its collections. more

Cultural Assets Illegally Removed in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)

Gemälde „Die beiden Schusterjungen“ von Wilhelm Busch
© bpk / Nationalgalerie, SMB / Andres Kilger

Cultural assets were also seized illegally from their owners in the GDR. Such cases are handled by government agencies set up specifically for that purpose. The Foundation assists these agencies by request. more

Unknown Ownership

Historische Aufnahme des Gemäldes „Reiterschlacht“
© Gemäldegalerie, SMB / Jörg P. Anders

The term “unknown ownership” is used for objects that do not belong to the Foundation but whose provenance is uncertain. The Foundation tries to identify the legal owners of such objects and to return them. more