A new bill to speed up the return of artwork stolen by the Nazis during WWII has passed the US Senate after its approval in the House of Representatives last week.
The bill known as the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act was first introduced by Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in April. The legislation will ensure American law “encourages the resolution of claims on Nazi-confiscated art on the merits, in a fair and just manner,” according to a press release.
The legislation extends the statute of limitations for returning stolen artwork to six years from the date a piece of art was first identified as stolen and the identity of its real owner determined. Itl will “help ensure that justice for Holocaust survivors and their families is achieved,” Ronald Lauder, chairman of the Commission for Art Recovery and president of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said in a statement.
The Oscar-winning English actress Helen Mirren testified in favor of the legislation during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this summer, during which she argued that “restoring physical parts of lost heritage to Holocaust victims and their families is a moral imperative.” Mirren played Maria Altmann, an attorney who sued the Austrian government to recover artwork stolen that belonged to her family and had been stolen by Nazi soldiers in WWII in the 2015 movie “Woman in Gold.” The legislation will now be passed to President Barack Obama for final approval.