Spoliation of works of art during the Holocaust and World War II period

This page concerns research into the provenance of items in the Government Art Collection or in the possession of the Foreign Office, for the period 1933-45, for evidence of looted or spoliated works of art.

The majority of items in the Government Art Collection are British works acquired in Britain, and we consider it unlikely that these were looted during the Nazi period. The GAC routinely undertakes research to identify and fill gaps in the provenance of works in Collection.

In 1999-2000 the GAC, in conjunction with the Foreign Office (FCO), carried out an audit of works of art in possession of HM Government in 66 British diplomatic posts overseas. The posts selected had been either in Axis countries or countries under German occupation; also posts in countries neutral during World War II in Europe and North Africa, through which looted art is known to have passed. As a result of this audit, the GAC found no evidence to link any of the works at posts with works looted during the Nazi/World War II period.

The GAC also carried out an examination of FCO files relating to the relevant posts at that period, but found no documentation or other evidence to suggest that any of these works at posts were looted during the period 1933-45.

The posts with whom the GAC and the FCO have been in correspondence have likewise confirmed that they have found no such references or evidence in their records at their posts.

For further information see the Spoliation page on the National Museum Directors Council website.