I'm Afraid You'll Have To Give That Back

An exploration of the work of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, set up in 2000 to advise government on what should be done with works of art in British collections that are claimed to have been looted during the Nazi era.

Until recently, anyone claiming that a British gallery or museum should return a work of art on the grounds that it had been looted between 1933 and 1945 was very unlikely to succeed.

In English law, claims for the restitution of stolen property have to be made within six years of the theft, so even if looting could be established beyond reasonable doubt, there was nothing a claimant could do.

On top of which, the British national collections are barred, by statute, from 'de-accessioning' anything they hold.

Realising that a purely legalistic approach to such claims was inadequate, the Department of Culture Media and Sport set up the Spoliation Advisory Panel in 2000 - and their Terms of Reference make it clear they can make recommendations on moral grounds.

Mark Whitaker looks at the delicate and complex work of the Panel in three completed cases.

This programme looks at the delicate and complex work of the Panel in three completed cases.

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An exploration of the work of the Spoliation Advisory Panel, set up in 2000 to advise government on what should be done with works of art in British collections that are claimed to have been looted during the Nazi era.

Until recently, anyone claiming that a British gallery or museum should return a work of art on the grounds that it had been looted between 1933 and 1945 was very unlikely to succeed.

In English law, claims for the restitution of stolen property have to be made within six years of the theft, so even if looting could be established beyond reasonable doubt, there was nothing a claimant could do.

On top of which, the British national collections are barred, by statute, from 'de-accessioning' anything they hold.

Realising that a purely legalistic approach to such claims was inadequate, the Department of Culture Media and Sport set up the Spoliation Advisory Panel in 2000 - and their Terms of Reference make it clear they can make recommendations on moral grounds.

Mark Whitaker looks at the delicate and complex work of the Panel in three completed cases.

This programme looks at the delicate and complex work of the Panel in three completed cases.