The Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act of 2016

An Ineffective Remedy for Returning Nazi-Looted Art

During World War II, the Third Reich engineered the “greatest art theft in history,” stealing over 650,000 works of art from across Europe. Nearly a century later, many of these works are still missing or have yet to be reunited with their prewar owners. Despite substantial efforts to both facilitate and expedite the restitution process, it still remains relatively difficult for individuals to reclaim art stolen from their families by the Nazis during the war.

This Note first examines the processes through which countries—in particular, the United States—have handled art restitution. This Note then analyzes the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act (“HEAR”) and its potential effectiveness in providing a suitable remedy to the victims of the Nazi art theft. Ultimately, this Note suggests several modifications to HEAR so that it provides an effective remedy to the victims while still protecting the interests of good-faith purchasers.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.