The treasure of the Guelphs is on display in the Berlin Museum of Decorative Arts
A US court has awarded victory to a major German cultural institution in a long-running battle with the heirs of Jewish merchants over a collection of medieval church art, DPA reported, quoted by
A District Court in the District of Columbia ruled that US courts lacked jurisdiction over the ownership of the collection, called the Treasure of the Guelphs.
The plaintiffs, who believe it was sold under Nazi pressure for far less than it was worth, said they were still considering whether to appeal the decision.
The collection, consisting mainly of gold, jewel-encrusted crosses and reliquaries, as well as other works of ecclesiastical art, was originally housed in the German cathedral of Brunswick (Braunschweig).
The works date from the 11th to the 15th century and came into the possession of the royal family of Guelph in 1671. The family decided to sell 82 items in 1929 when they were experiencing financial difficulties.
Forty-four of the items are in the possession of the Prussian Heritage Foundation. It is one of the world’s largest art foundations and operator of the Berlin museums.
The US legal battle, which began in 2015, affects 42 of those relics.
Prussian Heritage Foundation President Hermann Parzinger said the institution strives for fair and honest decisions in all Nazi-era restitution cases, but that this claim is without merit.
“We have already restituted several hundred works of art and over 2,000 books,” Parzinger said in a statement.
In a conversation with The Times of Israel in January 2014, the soft-spoken president of the SPK, archeologist Prof. Hermann Parzinger, says there have been 30 restitution cases at his foundation in the past 10-15 years, and that in more than 95% of them, the claimants have received the property.
“There is agreement that we have a moral responsibility and that things need to be restituted,” he says. “We always try to find a solution because we know very well, unfortunately, what our history was,” said Parzinger.
Photo: Arm reliquary of St. Lawrence from the Guelph Treasure, reliquary; late 12th Century; origin stylistically: Niedersachsen (Hildesheim?); Historical Location: Brunswick, St. Blasius; silver sheet, partially gilt, niello; window frames Silver, cast, bottom plate copper, gold plated, Rhinestone, cedarwood; Collection: Museum of Decorative Arts. Source: Berlin State Museums/ @Staatliche Museen zu Berlin