University of Idaho Discusses Modern Day Cases of Looted Art

By Nicole Hindberg on February 26, 2019

On Monday, February 25, the University of Idaho hosted a traveling exhibit in Moscow and on the Boise Law campus. The Moscow location simulcasted it in order to allow students who couldn’t go to Boise to attend the talk. The presentation is put on across the United States by Attorney Raymond Downd.

Downd works as a partner at a law firm in New York City called Dunnington, Bartholow, and Miller. Downd specializes in copyright litigation and Nazi art looting. During his time as a lawyer, he has also become an advocate for Jewish families who lost heirlooms during the Holocaust due to Nazi art looting. In an interactive video and presentation, he discussed the sale of stolen works of art, specifically during WWII, which helped fuel parts of the Nazi party. In the talk, he discussed those cases and compared them to similar ongoing cases.

During his time as a lawyer, he has recovered looted artworks from museums that were family heirlooms of European Jewish people that were killed during the Holocaust. All works of art were returned to the families that they originally belonged to. During the talk, he discussed the struggles, statutes of limitations, and claims that the sales were voluntary that he has endured during his work.

During the talk, he expressed his concern for the lack of involvement that art museums have had in these cases. He believes that there are still hundreds of looted works of art. He also doesn’t believe enough is being done towards returning looted pieces of art back to their original heirs.

He ended the talk by discussing laws that have passed in order to address the issue and how hard it is to get justice. Many criminals are not prosecuted because of the statute of limitations on the cases. These cases are no different, and Downd is working to get justice with those obstacles that he has endured.

By showing this talk, the University of Idaho Law Department was able to take part in a nation-wide conversation about Nazi-looted art that has become a more well-known topic in the past year. Although the event was held in law buildings, the presentation was open to anyone as this topic is important for all to understand as it is not talked about as much as it needs to be.

Nicole Hindberg is studying Journalism and Creative Writing at the University of Idaho. She has been writing for Uloop News since September 2018. She also writes for her school's newspaper called the Argonaut. She is also featured in weekly News shows on her university's radio station KUOI 89.3 FM Moscow.

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