American museums are accused of stopping Holocaust survivors and their heirs from claiming art looted by Nazis. The New York Times has published an article explaining that some museums, including NYC's Guggenheim, are using tactics to impede owners from getting their property.

Museums have avoided legal battles by asking judges to officially declare artworks as their property, beating owners to the punch. This is a practice of museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Museums have also not been forthcoming with relevant information that would aid people in uncovering the actual history behind an artwork. In other cases judges have dismissed claims because museums successfully argued that the claim was filed too late because of absurd deadlines.

Although institutions have been preventing their works from being claimed, owners are entitled to their works. In 1998, 44 nations including America signed a big, sweeping piece of legislature called the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. The ruling forcibly made governments and museums open to the idea of repairing the wounds created by Nazis who looted art owned by Jews during the Third Reich’s reign. However the Times claims historians, legal experts, and Jewish groups say American institutions have not lived up to their promise.

[via NYTimes]