Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act Signed into U.S. Law

On Friday, December 16, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act to aid recovery of Nazi-looted art.  Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the Council of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), who is also Chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery (CAR) as well as President of the World Jewish Congress, praised Obama and Congress for delivering overdue justice to Holocaust victims and their families.  The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), through the Report Concerning Approaches of United States Museums to Holocaust-Era Art Claims it issued in 2015 as well as advocacy over the years by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the WJRO played an important role in this effort. 

WJC press release

For Immediate Release
December 19, 2016
Contact: Bryan DeAngelis (202) 674-9215

President Obama Signs Law to Aid Recovery of Nazi-Looted Art
Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder Praises Obama and Congress for Delivering Overdue Justice to Holocaust Victims and Their Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday evening, President Barack Obama signed the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act into law. The new law ends an era where the victims and descendants of the Nazis were denied an opportunity for justice because of arbitrary legal obstacles. The HEAR Act will guarantee that claims to Nazi-confiscated art are resolved on their merits, bringing justice and peace of mind to families across the country.

Former Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery (CAR) and Chairman of the Council of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), led the effort to secure passage of the HEAR Act and released the following statement after President Obama signed the bill into law:

“The HEAR Act will end an enduring injustice for Holocaust victims and their families,” said Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder, Chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery and Chairman of the Council of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. “For too long, governments, museums, auction houses and unscrupulous collectors allowed this egregious theft of culture and heritage to continue, imposing legal barriers like arbitrary statutes of limitations to deny families the prized possessions stolen from them by the Nazis.”

“Thanks to President Obama’s signature of the HEAR Act, the recovery process can move forward. This important law will help victims of Nazi looting find justice and peace. No longer will legal technicalities bar families from having their claims heard on their merits. President Obama, Senators Schumer, Cornyn, Cruz, and Blumenthal, Chairman Goodlatte, and Representative Nadler, have shown great leadership for their actions on this issue and deserve a hearty yasher koach – congratulations.”

The HEAR Act was introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 15, 2016. The legislation was subsequently introduced in the House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Judiciary Committee Member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).

For more information, please visit http://www.commartrecovery.org/hear-act.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization works toward the restitution of private property and Jewish communal property seized during the Holocaust in Europe. Working together with local Jewish communities around the world, WJRO negotiates with government to reach agreements and obtain legislation concerning such restitution.

The Commission on Art Recovery was established in 1997 to spur efforts to restitute art that was seized, confiscated, or wrongfully taken as a result of the policies of the Third Reich and the devastation of the Holocaust.

Related Information

2015 Report Concerning Approaches of United States Museums to Holocaust-Era Art Claims

Read the full text of the new law