High Court (England and Wales)

City of Gotha  and Federal Republic of Germany v. Sotheby's and Cobert Finance S.A.
You can download a German translation of this judgment.


Note: This index essentially follows the outline given in the judgment.

Background Facts
I.1 The location of the painting in 1945 and 1946 (facts in issue relating to title)
Soviet Military Occupation 3rd July 1945 to 24th July 1946
II.1 Facts relating to Limitation; the arrival of the painting in West Berlin from Moscow, 1987-1989
Cobert’s account of how the painting came to West Berlin
The Plaintiffs’ Evidence as to how the Painting came to West Berlin
Findings of Fact as to Misappropriation
I.2 Approach to Foreign Law
Law Applicable to the Transfer of Title to the Painting
Title to the Painting under German Law
Confiscation of the painting on 6th July 1945
The Law of 9th October 1945
Order No 124 (SMAD) The Law of 4 December 1945, Order No 38 (SMA) and the Law of 24 July 1946
Was the Expropriation by the Law 9 October 1945 Repealed by the Law of 4 December 1945?
Contemporary documents l945 to l947
Order No.154/181 of 21st May l946 and the Law of 24th July l946
I.3 Dissolution of the Foundation on 14th October l950
Was the Dissolution Effective to Transfer Title to the Painting to the Land?
Expropriatory Intention lying behind the Dissolution
The Foundation Seat
The facts relating to the Art Foundation’s Seat
Did the Property of the Art Foundation including the Painting situated then in the Soviet Union Pass to the Land Thüringia?
Conclusion as to Dissolution
I.4 Recognition or Enforcement in an English Court of FRG’s Title to the Painting Under German Law
Was the dissolution a governmental act?
Is This Action an Action for the Enforcement directly or indirectly of a Penal Revenue or other Public Law of a Foreign state?
I.5 Return of the Painting to the German Democratic Republic in 1987
I.6 City of Gotha’s Claim to Possession
II.2 Is the German Limitation Period relevant?
II.3 Limitation Under German Law
The Application of Article 221 to a Transfer from Bailor to Bailee
Subsequent Misappropriation ("Unterschlagung") by the succeeding Possessor
II.4 Public Policy

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