Basel Art Museum in Switzerland.

Basel Art Museum Revisits Restitution Claim Made in 2008

The Basel Art Museum in Switzerland is revisiting a 2008 restitution bid made by the heirs of Curt Glaser, a prominent collector who was forced to auction artworks he owned in 1933 after he was dismissed from his job as head of the Prussian State Art Library. The institution had originally rejected the claim and said there was “absolutely no evidence” that the works in question belonged to Glaser, but it has since backtracked.

According to Reuters, the discovery of new documents related to Glaser’s collection prompted the institution’s director to create a task force that will reopen the case and investigate the heirs’ claims. It will focus on gathering evidence and will look into how the museum arrived at its decision to dismiss the claim ten years ago. The museum’s holdings include 120 drawings and prints that were once owned by Glaser, including an Edvard Munch lithograph titled Madonna.

“We hope [the restitution claim] won’t be put on the backburner, so everybody forgets about it again,” said Valerie Sattler, a great-niece of Glaser. A spokesperson for the institution said that it is working to arrange a meeting with the family. Felix Uhlmann, president of the museum’s art commission, said that it could take six months or more for the institution to arrive at a decision.