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BBC Scotland arts correspondent Pauline McLean
"Only when a work's history has been established will galleries consider handing them over"
 real 28k

Art expert Anne Webber
"Works with question marks over them may be looted"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 13:59 GMT
Scottish galleries on 'looted' list
National Gallery of Scotland
Scotland houses a number of works with gaps in their history
More than 50 paintings in Scotland's national galleries have been included on a list of artwork which may have been looted by the Nazis from Jews.

The list, published on the internet, highlights work which has a doubtful history in the lead-up to WWII and the holocaust.

The research was undertaken by galleries and museums throughout the UK in response to fears that many were harbouring stolen work.

The National Gallery in London was first to complete its audit. The other 23 national galleries and museums, including three in Scotland, have now announced their findings.

Works in Scotland

The National Gallery of Scotland discovered 15 paintings whose history during the period 1933-1945 gives cause for concern.

The Scottish Gallery of Modern Art uncovered 31 and there were six more at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

This work is in a Scottish gallery
About a quarter of a million works of arts are believed to have been taken by the Nazis during WWII. Much of it has never been returned to its rightful owners.

Many are by well-known artists such as Picasso and Renoir.

The World Jewish Congress estimates that about 110,000 artworks remain unaccounted for.

'Close the gaps'

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery in London, said: "There are a number of very famous works within the group but of those a very large number are not suspicious but rather uncertain in their provenance.

"We are publishing this information so others can help us close the gaps."

Anne Webber, chairman for the Commission for Looted Art in Europe said the lists showed the museums had not been fastidious enough about what they have bought in the past and public money had been spent on works whose history was not adequately known.

Cranach the elder
A Jewish collector had this painting stolen
She added it was important for the museums to ask for full disclosure from the art trade for all information they may have on any of the works listed.

Rightful ownership however, is not always easy to establish. Even if it can be proved that a piece of art was stolen, it is not yet clear whether it can simply be returned to the owners or their families.

Under current law, British galleries are barred from disposing of art that they hold in trust for the nation.

The government has set up an advisory panel to deal with claims from people, or their heirs, who believe they had treasures stolen.

'Public interest'

The panel - which will be known as the Spoliation Advisory Panel - is likely to be comprised of historians, philosophers and lawyers.

Ms Webber said she hoped the government will ensure justice is done.

"We would like to see museums acknowledge as a matter of public responsibility and international justice, that where these works are found to be looted they will ask for a commitment from the government that they will be able to be returned.

"It is a matter of public interest that looted works taken from people in the most horrific circumstances hang on the walls of our museums as the last prisoners of war."

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