What is Spoliation?

Spoliation means any act of theft or other deprivation which was committed during the Nazi era. It applies to objects lost to their rightful owners through actions for which it is reasonable to assume that the Nazi party or their allies were directly responsible or which it can reasonably have been said arose as a result of associated activity in the period 1933-45.

Glasgow Life Museums has been engaged in researching spoliation activity since 1998 when a process was instigated by the National Museums Directors Council to encourage museums in the UK to research and identify works in their collections that may have been wrongfully taken.

Spoliation Process

Glasgow City Council has a Working Group for the Repatriation of Artefacts which considers all spoliation claims and makes recommendations on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all ethical and legal implications and engaging with necessary agencies and stakeholders as required.

All valid spoliation claims relating to Glasgow City Council’s museum collection are referred to the Spoliation Advisory Panel. This is the body instituted by the UK government to provide a means of resolving claims of wrongful taking relating to works of art acquired in the Nazi era and now in UK museums and galleries.

Glasgow Life Museums is happy to engage in dialogue with the heirs or their representatives of spoliated works. Contact in the first instance should be with the Head of Museums and Collections, Duncan Dornan Duncan.dornan@glasgowlife.org.uk

Collection Research

Glasgow Life Museums is actively engaged in researching the provenance of works in its Collection. The Collection can be investigated using our Collection Navigator http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com

Some works with incomplete provenance have been included in the Collections Trust’s spoliation resource pages https://records.collectionstrust.org.uk/records/glasgow-museums

If you have additional information relating to any items in the collection we would be very glad to hear from you. Please email museumcollections@glasgowlife.org.uk

Previous Claims

Two claims, both for objects in The Burrell Collection have been successfully resolved by the Spoliation Advisory Panel:

A still life by Chardin from the sale of the stock of A. S. Drey, a Jewish-owned gallery in Munich. The panel agreed in 2004 that the painting had been subject to a forced sale and that it should be restituted to its rightful owners. The heirs accepted an ex gratia payment of £10,000 from Glasgow City Council and the painting remains in the Collection. The report can be viewed here.

A Swiss early sixteenth-century tapestry, The Visitation, from the collection of Emma Ranette Budge, a Jewish art collector from Hamburg. The panel concluded in 2014 that Burrell’s acquisition was the result of a forced sale. Glasgow City Council agreed to make an ex gratia payment to Budge’s Estate that reflected the current market value of the tapestry. In consideration of this payment Budge’s Estate released any claim over the tapestry and it remains in the Collection. The report can be viewed here.