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legal eagle
legal eagle, Attorney
Category: German Law
Satisfied Customers: 16765
Experience:  20 years of experience in all kinds of law, especially employment law and family law.
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I represent the family of an German artist who died in 1950,

Customer Question

I represent the family of an German artist who died in 1950, who's son died in 1984, and who's grandson died in 2011. A large number of art pieces hit the U.S. market last month and it was stated that the material came from the family, which it hasn't. This material has not been seen since late 1940's by the family and I believe they still own the property. No provenance has been provided by the consignee's in Germany and the consignor in the U.S.. The family wants proof that this material has legally been obtained and a record showing provenance since 1945. It is possible this material was taken when Germany fell. What can I do to obtain this very important information?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: German Law
Expert:  legal eagle replied 4 years ago.
Dear Customer,

thank you for using Just Answer

This is quite an unusual question but I will try to assist you

May I ask

In what matters do you represent the family?
Whst do they actually want?

By whom were the pictures put on the market?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am not an attorney. I represent as a friend to the family. They are in Munich I am in US. I have volunteered my assistance to the family and to the collector world. We are trying to find out if the consignees have a valid title of ownership to the material since there is no record of the family selling this material. It is not paintings but rather dies and hubs that are used in minting process to make art medals (see my web site

These pieces were placed on the market by a German medal auction house, but not in Germany, rather they consigned the material to Heritage Auctions here in the U.S. Heritage claims that the material was recently bought from the Goetz family but it wasn't. We want proof of ownership (which we feel they don't have). Without proof, they have no right to sell and the material belongs to the family.
Expert:  legal eagle replied 4 years ago.
Dear Customer,

thanks for your reply.

According to German Law the proprietor is seen as the rightful owner until proved otherwise.

There is an exception however if the picture for example was stolen or lost in some way

So the family has to prove their ownership because there is the assumption that the one who has the medafls in his possession is also the rightful owner

The auction house or whoever could have gained rightful ownership in different ways.

For example if the medals are not stolen goods he could have aquired them in good faithbwhoch makes him the rightful owner

Indeed there are many ways and as it was so long ago it os going to be next to impossible to prove that the seller is not the rightful owner

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
There is an exception however if the picture for example was stolen or lost in some way

The sellers just purchased this material from someone else recently. We believe the material is stolen or had been lost. How do we compel the sellers to prove they bought the material legally? And from whom?
Expert:  legal eagle replied 4 years ago.
Dear Customer,

you can still acquire material in good faith that has been lost

Only stolen goods are the exception

If you can prove the material has been lost the proprietornis not automatically considered as the rightful owner but has to prove his ownership.

So over the many years there are multiple possibilities that rightful ownership could have been gained.

So even if the seller was named he could still have acquired the medals rightfully and therefore have ownership

I am afraid you cannot compel them to prove the rightfulmacquisition but it is the other way round

The burden ofnproof would be with the familiy

Expert:  legal eagle replied 4 years ago.
Dear Customer,

Have you got any further questions ?

If not a positive feedback would be greatly appreciated

This is how the expert gets credit

Thank you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
What if these dies/hubs (made in order to create medals, like coins) were considered intellectual property or of importance to German heritage/history?
Expert:  legal eagle replied 4 years ago.
Dear Customer,

Thank you for your response

This would not make any difference

Lots of famous paintings are in private hands