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Week In Review

By Martha Nimmer

Lost & Found

After being hidden away for almost seven decades, over 1,500 works of art stolen by the Nazis have been discovered in an unassuming apartment in Munich. The collection is said to include pieces by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall.

The priceless collection of art, considered "degenerate" by the Third Reich and confiscated from Jewish collectors during World War II, "eventually made their way to a German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt," during World War II, writes NBC News. Gaining control of such an unparalleled art collection was not just a stroke of good fortune, however, as the The New York Times makes clear. As it turns out, Hildebrand Gurlitt was one of the Nazi era art dealers chosen by Joseph Goebbels to gather degenerate art from Jewish collectors. In some instances, certain confiscated art would be "paraded in an exhibition of shame." The exhibition, however, proved too popular, which met with dismay and disapproval from the Third Reich. After that, instead of being paraded around, thousands of stolen works of art simply disappeared, whereabouts unknown for decades -- that is, however, until some of those works of art turned up in 2011 in a Munich apartment following a raid by Bavarian police. Police officials, writes NBC, raided Gurlitt's apartment as part of a 2010 inquiry into his finances.

The works, re-discovered back in 2011, were hidden by the now deceased Gurlitt's son, Cornelius. According to NBC News, Cornelius "kept the works hidden in darkened rooms, selling a painting every now and then when he needed a cash infusion . . . ." The paintings' time out of the shadows was short lived, however. After their initial discovery, they were transported to a Munich warehouse for storage and safe keeping. Since then, German officials have been silent about their discovery "due to the diplomatic and legal complications stemming from the loot," particularly claims for restitution.

Unsurprisingly, this week's revelation by the German government of its two-year old discovery has raised many questions for European and North American governments and Holocaust survivor advocates. Just last Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S Department of State was considering "a formal push to get Germany to cooperate more with other governments and private groups in returning the Nazi-confiscated artworks discovered in a Munich apartment to their rightful owners . . . ." According to an unnamed source close to the State Department, the Department "believes that prosecutors in Germany violated the Washington Principles of 1998, international norms that govern the handling of claims to art seized or looted by the Nazis. The specific provision violated calls for a speedy publication of information regarding the discovery of stolen works." The source also indicated that the State Department would push Germany to revise its "30-year statute of limitations for filing claims in cases where the artwork is found to have been held by a private individual," although such a move, with its far-reaching implications for German sovereignty, is unlikely to succeed.

Advocates for Holocaust survivors and their families, along with the State Department, have also demanded that the German government release a full list of the recovered art. Last Thursday, New York's superintendent of financial services, Benjamin Lawsky, sent a letter to German prosecutors, urging them to release a complete list of the artworks contained in the Gurlitt cache; Lawsky's Department oversees New York's Holocaust Claims Processing Office. In the letter, Lawsky also urged Reinhard Nemetz, the Augsburg, Germany, prosecutor leading the investigation, to permit the international community to assist in the identification and return of the stolen art.

Given the vast number of priceless works of art involved, and the deeply sad and painful history behind their disappearance, it is clear this controversy is just beginning to unfold.





Polo Prevails

October was a good month for what some have called the sport of kings: polo. In mid-October, the sport of kings prevailed against Ralph Lauren Corporation (RLC) in a dispute over ownership of the .polo top level domain.

The expert panel of the International Chamber of Commerce, acting under the authority of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), "upheld a community objection filed by the United States Polo Association against Ralph Lauren Corporation's application to run the .polo top level domain name." In siding with the U.S. Polo Association, the panel wrote that "[a]s the registration of the '.polo' domain names would only be available to RLC and its affiliate entities and as RLC would be allowed unlimited automatic renewals of ".polo", RLC would have the ability to own and operate the ".polo" domain to the exclusion of all others, including members of the polo sports community. This barrier to entry cannot be counterbalanced by the Applicant's statement that it will not allow any secondary domains in its gTLD to infringe trademark rights of others." The panel went on to air its concern that the interests of the polo sports community would not be safeguarded if RLC was to own and operate the .polo domain, adding "RLC fails to provide effective security protection for internet users wishing to access the webpages of members of the polo sports community."


Read the decision here: http://domainnamewire.com/wp-content/polo.pdf

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Sue Fish

Two collectors of Dr. Seuss books have sued a New York gallery in New York Supreme Court, claiming that the defendant lost "two rare and very valuable" consigned artworks from Dr. Seuss's book You're Only Old Once!

Plaintiffs Clifford Davis and James Otis stated in their complaint that they jointly purchased artworks associated with one of Dr. Seuss' books for adults, You're Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children, in October 2008. They later consigned the artworks to the defendant Illustration House Gallery on November 13, 2012, expecting the pieces to be sold or returned within 60 days. That, however, never occurred. Otis claims that shortly after the 60-day period expired, he contacted the gallery by phone and by email. Gallery president Roger Reed told Otis "the two Dr. Seuss artworks were missing and could not be located by Illustration House, Inc. Staff," according to the complaint.

The complaint goes on to say that in April this year, an Illustration House, Inc. administrative assistant contacted Otis by email, indicating that the gallery would contact the plaintiffs as soon as it had located the artworks; according to the plaintiff, he indicated that he "would need the two Dr. Seuss artworks within ten (10) days so that the works could be displayed at the art gallery of Linda Jones Enterprises." The plaintiffs, however, never received the Dr. Seuss works; Otis nows claims that he lost the opportunity to sell the pieces to an interested buyer in May because the works had not been returned. Otis and Davis seek replevin and damages for conversion, breach of consignment agreement and breach of fiduciary duty. The pieces of art are each valued at $75,000.


Mike Pouncey Served Last Month

Less than an hour after the Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachussetts, Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was served with a grand jury subpoena related to Aaron Hernandez's possible role in interstate gun trafficking. A source with knowledge of the investigation told Sports Illustrated that investigators in several states, including New York, Massachusetts and Florida, are focusing on business dealings and transactions that the disgraced former Patriots player had in those locales. If evidence emerges that Pouncey was connected to those transactions, he may also face charges. In September, Hernandez was indicted and pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree murder. The other five charges were weapons-related, "as police seized at least three different types of ammunition."

Mike Pouncey and his twin brother, Maurkice, a Steelers center, were close to Hernandez. The three men lived together in Gainsville for periods of time when they played for the University of Florida. The Steelers declined comment when asked if Maurkice Pouncey had been served with a grand jury subpoena.

The grand jury subpoena of Mike Pouncey is just one of many controversies in which the NFL has found itself embroiled as of late. The subpoenaing of the Dolphins player suggests, according to an analysis by attorney and Sports Illustrated contributor Michael McCann, that "Hernandez's alleged wrongdoing was not entirely disconnected from other NFL players. The possibility that multiple NFL players may have engaged in questionable dealings through the sale of guns would be a devastating turn for the NFL as it tries to distance itself from Hernandez."

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/news/20131028/mike-pouncey-subpoena-legal-analysis/#ixzz2k1b17Mc8



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