Czech Art Claims Deadline Abolished;
Claims Can be Filed Indefinitely

Following efforts by the Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization, the Czech lower house of Parliament has passed a bill that abolishes the December 31, 2006 deadline for filing claims for artworks and cultural objects looted during the Shoah. Under this bill, claims may be filed indefinitely.

The claims process in the Czech Republic was established by a 2000 law permitting applicants of any nationality to claim art that was stolen from Jews between September 29, 1938 and May 8, 1945 and that is currently in Czech state collections. Since the law was passed, approximately 20,000 objects in Czech collections have been identified as having been obtained by the Nazis, but only about 500 have been returned.

The bill extending the deadline must still be approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus to take effect, which is anticipated to occur soon. The Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization have been pressing the Czech government for some time to extend the claims deadline.

The Czech government recently agreed to extend funding for the Documentation Centre of Property Transfers of Cultural Assets of WW II Victims, which researches the provenance of artworks and identifies Nazi-stolen art.

The identified stolen art is listed at www.restitution-art.cz.