The City and Canton of Zurich and the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft have appointed Prof. Raphael Gross to conduct the review of the existing provenance research regarding the Bührle Collection. In so doing, they are following the recommendations of the independent Round Table which was set up to make preparations for the evaluation. Raphael Gross’s report on his findings is expected to be completed at the end of June 2024
The works from the Bührle Collection have been displayed on long-term loan in the Chipperfield building of the Kunsthaus Zürich since October 2021. The City and Canton of Zurich and the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft (the patron association of the Kunsthaus Zürich) wish to conduct a review of the existing research into the works’ provenance. In particular, they wish to establish whether there are substantiated indications that they include cultural property confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution. The aim is to ensure that no such works are exhibited at the Kunsthaus.
The review is to be independent and meet the highest scientific standards. Prof. Felix Uhlmann, as joint delegate of the commissioning bodies (the City and Canton of Zurich and the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft), convened a Round Table to prepare for the evaluation by ensuring the involvement of relevant (including critical) voices. The Round Table recommended that the commissioning bodies appoint Prof. Raphael Gross as the expert to conduct the review, and precisely defined the matters to be considered within the mandate. The commissioning bodies wish to thank the delegate and the members of the Round Table for their clear recommendations and the extensive work they have carried out to date.
The commissioning bodies have appointed Raphael Gross in accordance with the Round Table’s recommendation. He will conduct the review at the head of a team of experts which he will put together himself, and which will scrutinise and appraise the available provenance research into the Bührle Collection. A selective, indepth review will be conducted into the provenances of between five and ten works still to be chosen by Raphael Gross. His final report is expected to be completed at the end of June 2024. On the basis of its findings, recommendations will be made to the Kunsthaus regarding its future treatment of the loans from the Bührle Collection. The agreed cost ceiling for the mandate is CHF 730,000. The costs will be borne by the City of Zurich.
Prof. Raphael Gross is a historian and grew up in Zurich. He spent a number of years in the UK and held the post of Director of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt am Main, and has been President of the Deutsches Historisches Museum Foundation since 2017. He has played a key role in many restitution proceedings. Since 2016 he has been a member of the German “Advisory Commission on the return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, especially Jewish property”. This body was established in 2003 by the Federation, Länder and national associations of local authorities to mediate in case of disputes over the restitution of Nazi-confiscated cultural property. Raphael Gross works on the basis of the “Washington Principles” and follow-up declarations.
Image : Emil Bührle, about 1946
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