This Note considers the legal issues relating to innocent buyers of looted art. After providing some historical background on the massive displacements of art that took place during World War II, the Note surveys recent developments, including the different types of disputes that have arisen in the past few years. It then provides a legal framework for analyzing one type of dispute, that of the innocent buyer of looted art.
Original owners face difficult evidentiary burdens and other litigation barriers, but law and policy nevertheless favor original owners above innocent buyers. In particular, courts have become increasingly impatient with the anarchy of the international art market and are prepared to impose a duty to search upon those who invest in valuable works of art. Under these circumstances, most disputes between original owners and innocent buyers are likely to be settled out of court. Moreover, the art world, in response to the duty to search, has begun developing title search methods and other title-related policies so future art buyers can rest assured that they have not bought looted property.
Michelle I. Tumer,
The Innocent Buyer of Art Looted During World War II,
32 Vanderbilt Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.vanderbilt.edu/vjtl/vol32/iss5/6