A German mediation panel on Nazi-era art claims ruled against the heirs of Jewish collectors Thursday in a dispute over the 1935 sale of a trove of medieval church artifacts, according to Agence France Presse. The fight centered on the Guelph Treasure or "Welfenschatz" of gold, silver and gem-studded relics believed to be worth hundreds of millions of Euros (dollars) in total. The now 44-piece collection, the largest German church treasure in public hands, is kept in a Berlin museum overseen by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
The state-backed Limbach Commission found that the former Jewish owners did not sell the Welfenschatz treasure under duress and received a fair market price from the state of Prussia. The body said it was "aware of the severe situation of the art dealers and their persecution in the Nazi era". but added that it saw no evidence of "a persecution-induced forced sale" and that the price "corresponded to the situation on the art market after the world economic crisis" following the 1929 stock market crash. State Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said that, although the German government favored restitution in many cases, in this case she "hopes that the Jewish heirs will accept the recommendation of the commission."