Amendment to Art Restitution Act

Austrian Federal Chancellery (06/22/2009) 

Based on an agreement by Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance Josef Pröll and Minister of Culture Claudia Schmied, the Amendment to the Art Restitution Act is favored to be passed by the Council of Ministers on June 23, 2009. According to the draft amendment, the Ministry of Finance will have a voting right on the Advisory Board on Restitution, and the Office of the State Attorneys at the Ministry of Finance will act in an advisory capacity. Apart from works of art, the Federal Republic should also be authorized to return “other movable cultural assets.” In addition to items from the collections of the federal museums or the Federal Furniture Collection, the new law will cover “other federal property.”

The term of the Advisory Board on Restitution is to be extended to three years “to ensure independence.” Moreover, covered will be assets which the NS regime seized outside Austria as well as before 1938. The tasks of the Provenance Research Commission (“the systematic description of the provenance of the federal collections in connection with possible seizures by the NS regime“) are to be stated explicitly in the law.

“Restitution is a historic duty which must be conducted by the Republic of Austria in the most judicious manner. The Amendment to the Art Restitution Act is another important task in the context of indemnification,“ said Schmied. Minister Pröll considers this a “clear step towards a comprehensive restitution of artworks of doubtful origin.”