Museum to release list of art allegedly looted by Nazis

BOSTON: Buckling under a tidal wave of unfavorable PR, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston announced that it will publish a list of 12 to 15 European paintings whose origins have raised the possibility that they were plundered by Nazis.

BOSTON: Buckling under a tidal wave of unfavorable PR, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston announced that it will publish a list of 12 to 15 European paintings whose origins have raised the possibility that they were plundered by Nazis.

BOSTON: Buckling under a tidal wave of unfavorable PR, the Museum

of Fine Arts in Boston announced that it will publish a list of 12 to 15

European paintings whose origins have raised the possibility that they

were plundered by Nazis.



The MFA’s decision to release the list of paintings on its Web site was

prompted largely by The Boston Herald, which approached the museum with

21 European works that it believed had ties to Nazi art dealers or gaps

in their provenance between 1933 and 1945.



The MFA initially denied that it had any Nazi-looted artwork and refused

to acknowledge the charges. ’Responding to this type of inquiry would be

irresponsible,’ the museum spokeswoman said at the time.



But criticism from both Jewish leaders and the Herald seems to have

driven the MFA to disclosure. World Jewish Congress executive director

Elan Steinberg publicly criticized the MFA for not conducting its

research in a ’transparent’ manner.



’The issue is not whether the research takes a long time, but why it’s

not being released as it’s ongoing,’ he said.



The MFA, in an about-face from its initial denial, said in the

announcement that it had been reviewing the provenance of its European

paintings since 1998, when the 165 member museums that make up the

Association of Art Museum Directors pledged to review their collections

for potentially looted artwork. Despite the absence of communications

guidelines, several leading museums that Steinberg targeted, including

the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, have

publicly communicated their provenance findings.



Steinberg plans on continuing his research and will alert the news media

to 200 American museums that he believes have failed to fulfill the 1998

pledge.



’The best PR is good public conduct,’ he said. ’The public should not

have to go through this exercise in ’gotcha!’ ’



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