Reflecting on Restitution
25 years of the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art
Event date 2023
Event location Worldwide
Christie’s Restitution department will honour the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles in 2023 with a global series of events and initiatives.
In December 1998, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum brought together participants from 44 countries and 13 non-governmental organizations, as well as observers from art museums and auction houses, to Washington, D.C., to address the widespread loss and confiscation of art during the Holocaust era. This group established and publicly shared 11 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art, which offered a new way forward for victims and their heirs to research, locate, and, where possible, recover missing art and lost histories. The Washington Principles have ushered in a new wave of art restitution and they are the foundation of Christie’s approach to art and cultural valuables that were lost during the Nazi-era and to the work of its Restitution Department.
During 2023, scholars, legal experts, researchers and interested parties will meet in Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Berlin, London, New York as well as throughout the United States to share and discuss important stories, ideas and perspectives. Christie’s Reflecting on Restitution programme begins on 27 January, when visitors will be welcomed to an inaugural public exhibition at Christie’s galleries in Paris. Throughout the year, global audiences will be invited to engage with the programme through other in-person opportunities as well as Christie’s dedicated website, featuring recordings of selected events, stories of important restitutions, as well as a virtual walking tour of historic sites throughout Berlin.
View past panels
Reflecting on Restitution: A roundtable discussion
The New York roundtable was hosted by Marc Porter, Christie's Chairman, Americas and moderated by Richard Aronowitz, Christie's Global Head of Department and featured keynote speaker Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, drafter of the Washington Principles and Christie’s Advisory Board Member who was joined by Simon Goodman, author of 'The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis'; MacKenzie Mallon, Provenance Specialist at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and Susan de Menil, Co-Founder, Art, Antiquities, and Blockchain Consortium.
London Calling: Nazi-era Restitution from the 1943 ‘London Declaration’ to the Washington Principles and Beyond
Marc Porter, Anthea Peers and Richard Aronowitz invite you to a roundtable discussion on London Calling: Nazi-era Restitution from the 1943 ‘London Declaration’ to the Washington Principles and Beyond together with Anne Webber, Imke Gielen, Jacques Schuhmacher, and Till Vere-Hodge.
Fragments of Collections by Raphaël Denis: A conversation with the artist
From 27 January to 10 February 2023, Christie’s was pleased to present Fragments of Collections by Raphaël Denis, an exhibition which explored the question of looting of works of art that occurred in France during the Second World War. Artist-researcher Raphaël Denis has been developing the set of installations entitled La Loi normale des erreurs for almost ten years.
The Recovery of the Bloch-Bauer Klimt Paintings
Angela Baillou, Managing Director, Austria, Christie’s and Richard Aronowitz, Global Head of Department, Restitution, Christie’s host a virtual talk on The Recovery of the Bloch-Bauer Klimt Paintings.
Christie’s Grant for Nazi-Era Provenance Research
In addition to the year-long global programme marking the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles, Christie’s is delighted to announce the 2023 Christie’s Grant for Nazi-Era Provenance Research. The Grant, to be offered to three recipients (£5,000 each), will fund forward-thinking academic, post-graduate research into subjects related to Nazi-era provenance research.
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Reclaiming lost history: 25 years of the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art
The 1998 international guidelines forever changed the discourse about Nazi-confiscated art, and continue to guide the Christie’s Restitution Department today
Stories of Restitution
Art World News
‘An incredible sense of purpose’: the brave women who fought for the return of Nazi-confiscated art
Impressionist & Modern Art
The mystical Modernism of Franz Marc, whose art was a ‘bridge into the spirit world’
Restitution: how these Old Master works confiscated by the Gestapo were returned more than six decades later
Explore more from Christie’s Restitution
For over a quarter of a century, Christie’s has engaged with the legacy of Nazi era and World War II art theft and dispossession. Losses during 1933–1945 to Europe’s collections, in particular those of Jewish collectors, through persecution, confiscation, and forced sales continues to resonate strongly in today’s art world. Christie’s has the largest and most experienced Restitution team of any international auction house, underscoring our responsibility to this field.
We invite you to explore our work in Restitution.
To learn more about the Holocaust please visit: Yad Vashem