Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, July 10, 1998 Published at 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK


Moves for guidelines on Holocaust art

The Tate Gallery: British museums and galleries could receive new guidelines on looted art

Britain's national museums and galleries are considering establishing guidelines for assessing whether art bought for them after World War II had been stolen from Holocaust victims.

The move comes as part of a growing international focus on looted art.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith is looking in to the possibility of introducing guidelines to assess the background of works of art in the nation's collection.

[ image: No British galleries are aware of pieces bought from looted collections]
No British galleries are aware of pieces bought from looted collections
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the issue was being looked into.

The spokesman told BBC News 24: "It is not something we would be opposed to and we are looking into it."

He said the method of assessing the origins of works of art was not a straightforward issue.

Works of art sold after World War II may have belonged to Holocaust victims but there there are also records of art being sold legitimately by Jewish families, such as refugees, before the war.

The Nazi party also owned its own works of art which further complicated the issue, the spokesman said.

The move follows a letter to the Secretary of State from Dr Alan Borg, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and chairman of the Conference of Directors of National Museums and Galleries.

In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle newspaper Dr Borg said it was time Britain followed initiatives abroad in dealing with looted art.

He told the newspaper: "Although I can speak only on behalf of the national museums, we have made contact with the non-national museums through the Museums and Galleries Commission and the Museums Association.

"We are drawing up a series of principles and surveying the collections that we hold."

[ image: The Victoria and Albert Museum: director Dr Alan Borg raised the issue]
The Victoria and Albert Museum: director Dr Alan Borg raised the issue
Dr Borg said there were no British art galleries which were currently aware of any items in their collections which had been looted although that did not mean that none existed.

The move to investigate the history of Britain's national art collection follows international measures to deal with looting carried out by the Nazis during World War II.

American museums have already established a clear set of directives for dealing with potentially looted work.

The three biggest commercial banks in Switzerland have offered to pay a maximum of $600m in a global settlement of the claims by victims of the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Relevant Stories

03 Jul 98 | Europe
Swiss banks and Jewish gold

11 Jul 98 | World
New York's sanctions on Swiss banks

19 Jun 98 | Europe
Jewish groups attack Swiss offer

19 Jun 98 | Europe
Swiss banks offer $600m

Internet Links

Jewish Chronicle

Department of Culture, Media and Sport

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online