As the art market and museums sector come under growing scrutiny for their due diligence processes around potential colonial and Nazi-era loot, Christie's is opting to support the next generation of provenance researchers. The auction house is launching a grant programme to support scholarship related to Nazi-era provenance issues.
The year-long grants, which will provide £5,000 each to three selected graduate students, will fund studies of potential Nazi-compromised cultural heritage objects before and during the Second World War. Recipients will also receive professional mentorship from a member of Christie’s restitution team.
The first grant recipients will be announced on 3 December, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Washington Principles, the international agreement created to address wide-reaching confiscation during the Holocaust. The programme's launch comes amid a steady stream of lawsuits concerning objects that either lack clear provenance for the period surrounding the Second World War or are documented to have passed through the hands of dealers affiliated with Nazi Germany. In New York, a law intended to compel museums to label such works prominently has been minimally effective due to a lack of enforceability.
The grants are part of Christie’s year-long programme focused on restitution of Nazi loot, which marks the Washington Principles' 25th anniversary through a series of panels, stories and virtual tours of historic sites throughout Berlin. The 1998 Washington Principles, formed with the co-operation of 44 countries and 13 different non-governmental organisations, offered 11 different venues and strategies to victims and heirs of Nazi confiscation.
Applicantions for Christie’s new grant will be evaluated by a panel of six judges, including Sarah Done, Christie’s director of restitution, and Marc Masurovsky, who co-founded the Holocaust Art Restitution Project in 1997.
“These new grants deepen Christie’s ongoing commitment to engage with Nazi-era restitution, to expand scholarship in provenance research, and to ensure continued focus on this vital topic, providing support to an emerging new generation of researchers," Done said in a statement.
Applications from interested graduate students will be accepted through 31 May.