Provenance Research Project

Researchers continue to study the ownership history, or provenance, of works created before 1946 and acquired after 1932 that were or could have been in Continental Europe during the Nazi era.


The Museum of Modern Art owns approximately 800 paintings created before 1946 and acquired after 1932, that were or could have been in Continental Europe during the Nazi era. Researchers at the Museum have examined, and are continuing to research, the ownership, or provenance, records for works that fall within this category. The majority of these works were acquired directly from the artists or have provenance records that are sufficiently complete to eliminate the likelihood of Nazi misappropriation. Provenance research, however, remains an ongoing project, and a priority, at the Museum.

In April 2000, The Museum of Modern Art's director, Glenn D. Lowry, joined other American museum directors to present testimony before The Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets, reaffirming the museum community's commitment both to assist in the discovery of objects unlawfully appropriated during the Holocaust period and to make information on collection provenance more widely available. We publish this to further this effort (and in accordance with the American Association of Museums (AAM)'s April 2001 Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era ).

In September 2003, the AAM launched a Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal , thus providing a general searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that were or could have been in Continental Europe during the Nazi era (1933–1945). Works on this MoMA Web site can be cross-referenced from the AAM portal.

Ongoing provenance research on the listed works is posted periodically, in installments, and the Museum welcomes any further information on the provenance of these collection works that users of this site may be able to provide. (Please note that the Museum's archival records for all collection works are open, as they always have been, to serious researchers.)

  • For the American Association of Museums' website, which publishes the AAM's Guidelines Concerning the Unlawful Appropriation of Objects During the Nazi Era , issued November 1999, and amended April 2001; the AAM's Recommended Procedures for Providing Information to the Public about Objects Transferred in Europe During the Nazi Era ; the Report of the Association of Art Museum Directors Task Force on the Looting of Art During the Nazi/World War II Era , dated June 4, 1998; and information on other museum sites, see
  • For the Nazi-Era Provenance Internet Portal launched in September 2003 by the AAM, which provides a general searchable registry of objects in U.S. museum collections that were or could have been in Continental Europe during the Nazi era, and thus includes the works on this MoMA Web site, see
  • For the Association of Art Museum Directors website and press releases, see
  • For the Final Report of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States and related resources, see
  • For the Lost Art Internet Database, which facilitates the registration of cultural assets that were relocated, transported, or confiscated as a result of persecution during World War II and the Nazi period, and which lists of more than 2,200 looted artworks, see The Lost Art Internet Database is a joint project by the Federal Government of Germany and the federal states of Germany.
  • For the Art Loss Register, a comprehensive database of looted art, designed to help Holocaust survivors and their heirs in their search for lost art works, and to enable prospective purchasers and lenders to ascertain whether a particular work of art has been reported stolen or missing, see
  • For the Central Registry of Information on Looted Cultural Property 1933 - 1945, and the Commission of Looted Art in Europe (ECLA), based in London, see This site contains two fully searchable databases. The Information Database contains information and documentation from over 40 countries, including laws and policies, reports and publications, archival records, current cases and relevant sites. The Object Database will contain details of 20,000 objects of all kinds from over 12 countries. Some are looted and their location is known. Others are looted and their location is still unknown. Yet others are under investigation in museums throughout the world.
  • For New York State organizations dealing with claims, Holocaust restitution information, and searchable lists, see
  • For the International Foundation of Art Research website, see IFAR is a not-for-profit educational and research organization that offers impartial and authoritative information on authenticity, ownership, theft, and other artistic, legal, and ethical issues concerning art objects.
  • For The Project for the Documentation of Wartime Cultural Losses (The Documentation Project), initiated to collect and make available information relating to works of art, archives, and other types of cultural property displaced as a consequence of war, see The Documentation Project is administered under the auspices of the Cultural Property Research Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit foundation incorporated in 1998 in New York; its main focus is the period of World War II. The website includes extensive lists of looted collections, and of Nazi officials and art dealers involved in art looting and trading. It also includes the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) Final Report, assembled by art experts within the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) after extensive research conducted in 1945–46.
  • For articles related to looted art, see Within the section "Focus on Looted Art", "Continue to OSS List" offers another version of the ALIU Final Report originally issued in 1946 by the OSS; and "Other Looted Art Resources" provides more online information on the subject.
  • For international online resources relating to the Second World War and the looted art problem, see The Museum Security Network is financially supported by the Netherlands Museums Association (NMV) and was founded in 1996 to collect and disseminate information about incidents and trade involving stolen cultural property.
  • For Records and Research Relating to Holocaust-Era Assets, at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland; and specifically for information regarding access to primary and secondary resources, see , Holocaust Era Assets. Searchable online resources include an extensive finding aid to Holocaust-era asset records at the National Archives.
  • For Holocaust Era Related Resources at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, see , Provenance Index Databases.
  • For a searchable index of over 2,000 works stolen from victims of the Holocaust, and in the custodianship of the national museums of France since 1949, see Click on "MNR" (for Musées Nationaux Récupération).
  • For an exhibition of works restituted to the French government after WWII and now in the custodianship of the Musée national d'art moderne, shown at the Centre Georges Pompidou, April 9-21, 1997, see , Dossiers, MNR.
  • For provenance information available through other museum Web sites, see:

    In the U.S.: Art Institute of Chicago Cleveland Museum of Art J. Paul Getty Museum Harvard University Museums Metropolitan Museum of Art Museum of Fine Arts, Boston National Gallery of Art, Washington

    In the U.K: National Museums of the United Kingdom – The National Museum Directors' Conference represents the leaders of the UK's national museums and galleries. While its members are funded by central government, the NMDC is an independent and non-governmental organization.

    In France: Musées Nationaux Récupération [MNR] – The French government lists works of art retrieved from Germany following World War II but never claimed by their legitimate owners. Since 1949, these works have been administered under the direction of the Musées de France.

    In Germany: Lost Art Internet Database – The German government lists more than 2,200 unclaimed looted works of art still in its possession, as well as information about works still missing from public institutions and private individuals in Germany.


Selected Publications

  • Alford, Kenneth D. Nazi Plunder: Great Treasure Stories Of World War I. Cambridge, Ma.: Da Capo Press, 2001.

  • Alford, Kenneth D. The Spoils of World War II: The American Military's Role in the Stealing of Europe's Treasures. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1994.

  • Barron, Stephanie, ed.; with contributions by Peter Guenther et al. "Degenerate art": The Fate of the Avant-Garde in Nazi Germany. Los Angeles, Calif.: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991. Published in conjunction with the exhibition held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Feb. 17–May 12, 1991, and at the Art Institute of Chicago, June 22–Sept. 8, 1991. Includes bibliographical references and index. Includes a facsimile reprint, with parallel English translation, of Führer durch die Ausstellung Entartete Kunst. Berlin: Verlag für Kultur- und Wirtschaftswerbung, [1937].

  • Bureau central des Restitutions à Berlin. Répertoire des biens spoliés en France durant la guerre 1935-1945. Berlin : Imprimerie nationale, 1947-. Reprint by Etherington Conservation Center, 1997. Originally published by the Commandement en chef français en Allemagne / Groupe français du conseil de contrôle / Direction generale de l'économie et des finances / Division des réparations et restitutions / Bureau central des restitutions. The full set of volumes that list the paintings removed from France during the war comprises: Tome II: Tableaux, tapisseries et sculptures; Annexe au Tome II; Premier supplément au Tome II; Additif au premier supplément; Deuxième supplément; Troisième supplément; and Index.

  • Edsel, Robert M. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. New York: Center Street, 2009.

  • Edsel, Robert M. Rescuing Da Vinci: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe's Great Art - America and Her Allies Recovered It. Dallas: Laurel Publishing, LLC, 2006.

  • Eizenstat, Stuart. Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II. New York: Public Affairs, 2003.

  • Feliciano, Hector. The Lost Museum: The Nazi Conspiracy to Steal the World's Greatest Works of Art. New York: Basic Books/Harper Collins, 1997. Includes bibliographical references and index.

  • Howe Jr., Thomas Carr. Salt Mines and Castles: The Discovery and Restitution of Looted European Art. New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1946.

  • Kurtz, Michael J. Nazi Contraband: American Policy on the Return of European Cultural Treasures, 1945–1955. New York: Garland, 1985.

  • Lester, Robert and Blair Hydrick. Art Looting and Nazi Germany: Records of the Fine Arts and Monuments Adviser, Ardelia Hall, 1945-1961. Bethesda: University Publications of America, 2002.

  • Nicholas, Lynn. The Rape of Europa. New York: Knopf, 1994. Includes bibliographical references and index. Also paperbound: New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

  • Petropoulos, Jonathan. Art as Politics in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, l996. Originally presented as the author's doctoral dissertation, Harvard University. Includes bibliographical references and index.

  • Petropoulos, Jonathan. The Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Includes bibliographical references and index.

  • Simpson, Elizabeth, ed. The Spoils of War: World War II and Its Aftermath. The Loss, Reappearance, and Recovery of Cultural Property. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997.

  • Smyth, Craig Hugh. Repatriation of Art from the Collection Point in Munich after World War II: Background and Beginnings with Reference Especially to the Netherlands. Maarssen, Netherlands: G. Schwartz, 1988.

  • Wechsler, Helen. Museum Policy and Procedure for Nazi-Era Issues. Resource Report. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2001.

  • Yeide, Nancy H., Konstantin Akinsha, and Amy L. Walsh. The AAM Guide to Provenance Research. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Museums, 2001. An invaluable handbook on provenance research as it relates to the Holocaust era, in particular, including bibliographies, lists of "red flag" names, and information on archives, auction sales, exhibitions, libraries, etc.

  • Selected Microfilms and Sound Recordings:

    • A copy of the 480-page inventory of "degenerate art" seized from German museums by the Nazis in 1937 can be obtained from the Fischer Bequest at the National Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. A copy can be found at The Museum of Modern Art Library: Author/Artist: Germany. Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda. Title: Entartete Kunst : typescript inventory. Publisher: [1942?] Description: 2 v. ([231; 248] leaves) ; 30 cm. Summary: The typescript is an inventory compiled by the German Ministry of Propaganda of all works of art in German museums which were characterized as "degenerate art" and seized by the National Socialist (Nazi) government. The entries are organized alphabetically by city, institution, and artist's name, and include separate columns containing information on titles of works, medium, sales, dealers, and destruction of works. The inventory was apparently compiled as a final record, after the sales had been completed in the summer of 1941, probably in 1942. Both volumes of the typescript contain contemporary additions and amendments in pen in different hands. Photocopy. London : Harry Fischer Collection, National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2001. 2 vols.
    • For the first time, researchers wanting to see reports from the Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU) of the Office of Strategic Services will not have to travel to the National Archives at College Park to examine the original paper documents. The National Archives has released a microfilm publication consisting of reports of art looting and trafficking of looted art by the Nazis in World War II. The publication entitled, "OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports, 1945-46," consists of detailed interrogation reports, consolidated interrogation reports, and the final report of the ALIU. The microfilm publication, (M1782), is available for research use in the microfilm research rooms at the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, at the National Archives at College Park, and at the 13 National Archives regional facilities, located in major urban areas nationwide. Copies can also be purchased. More information about the Microfilm Project is available at Author/Artist: United States. Office of Strategic Services. National Archives and Records Administration. Title: OSS Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports, 1945–46 [microform] / Michael Hussey, Michael J. Kurtz, and Greg Bradsher arranged and processed these records for filming and prepared this descriptive pamphlet. Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, 2001. Description: 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. On the single roll of this microfilm publication, M1782, are reproduced the Detailed Interrogation Reports, Consolidated Interrogation Reports, and the Final Report of the Office of Strategic Service's (OSS) Art Looting Investigation Unit (ALIU). Series: National Archives microfilm publications. M ; microcopy no. 1782
    • Author/Artist: Barr, Alfred Hamilton, 1902–1981. The Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Junior Council. Title: Art under the Soviet and Nazi dictatorships [sound recording]. Date of program: December 10, 1952. Description: 4 sound tape reels : analog ; 7 in. In: Museum of Modern Art (New York, N.Y.). Archives. Sound recordings. Performed by: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Summary: Illustrated talk by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. (Director of Museum Collections). Preservation of the sound recording in spring 2001 made possible through a generous grant from the New York State Education Department and Library. Available for public use in compact disc format. Duplication not permitted. Credits: Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Series: Related arts of today Subject(s): Sound recordings. Database: DADABASE. Location: Museum Archives. Call Number: Sound Recording #52.7–52.10. Use of this material is by advance appointment only.

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris