THEMIS Hartung & Partner | Annual Review 2019

Dear friends of the firm,

Another great year is drawing to a close. I look back on it with gratitude and satisfaction. We were able to successfully conclude many cases.

For example, our criminal defence of auctioneers in a major criminal case with 190 charges led to the dismissal of the case. Throughout the year, we fought with joy and commitment for our clients, for their rights, for their property, for their personal rights and for much more.

For a small selection of special cases of 2019, see our Art Law Highlights 2019 below. We stay tuned and look forward to the challenges of the future and the year 2020.

Most of all, however, we look forward to further exchanges with you!

Merry Christmas and a happy, successful and healthy new 2020!


Your Hannes Hartung



Dear friends and colleagues,

Another great year is drawing to a close. I look back on it gratefully and contentedly. We could close many cases successfully.

For example, our criminal defence of auctioneers in a large criminal trial with 190 charges led to the suspension of the proceedings. Throughout the year we fought with joy and commitment for our clients, for their rights, for their property, for their personal rights and for much more.

You can find a small selection of special cases of the year 2019 in our Art Law Highlights 2019 below. We stay tuned and look forward to the challenges of the future and the year 2020.

Most of all, however, we look forward to further exchange with you!

Merry Christmas and a happy, successful and healthy new 2020!


Your Hannes Hartung

#Art law #Highlights #BGH #Purrmann 1TP4Looted art #loot art #Restitution #Esuccess # setting #Poland #Awards #THEMIS #Harting #Erbrecht #S Foundation Law #Privateclients

And here we go:

26 Jul Dr. Hannes Hartung, lawyer, and Dr. von Plehwe fight for an important ruling at the Federal Supreme Court.

A burglary is a nightmare for everyone. It is even worse when personal belongings that you have grown fond of are brutally stolen. The famous German painter Hans Purrmann portrayed his wife in the beautiful work Woman in an Armchair in Sorrento in 1924 and later gave it to his daughter. Next to it, the work Bouquet of Flowers from 1939 was stolen

In a landmark ruling, the Federal Court of Justice strengthened owner protection on 19 July 2019. We previously represented the appeal before the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court.

The case came through the eye of the needle of admission by the BGH with a success rate of 4 % on average, thanks to a brilliant non-admission appeal by Mr Rechtsanwalt am BGH Dr Thomas vom Plehwe. It is incomprehensible anyway how often higher regional courts do not allow an appeal because the matters would not be of general importance, which is not true in most cases.

The Federal Supreme Court overturned the judgement of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court and referred the proceedings back to another senate of the Higher Regional Court.

Redemption is the most frequent acquisition offence in the case of stolen and lost works of art. In principle, ten years of bona fide possession are sufficient for this. For this it is sufficient that the person claimed has possessed the pictures as his or her own for ten years. This is usually the case if the owner is not aware of any evidence of theft or loss.

Unfortunately, case law has always assumed good faith far too generously in many cases. The Federal Court of Justice has now put a stop to this and demanded that the owner must provide a secondary burden of proof has. He must therefore make his good faith plausible, that he had no clues or that he noticed things from which he must conclude that the works cannot belong to him.

In the present case, the defendant's father claims to have bought the extremely expensive works of art in a gallery in Dinkelsbühl. The defendant remained silent about the purchase price. An extremely low purchase price is of course an important point of reference. Works by Hans Purrmann today start the art market at €50,000.

But is there even a gallery in Dinkelsbühl that sells such high-quality works of classical modernism? We did not find a gallery there. Nor was one specifically named by the defendant.

The stolen works were written out signed Hans Purrmannso that after only a short research it must be clear to any layman that he must have something special that is worth a lot.

This was also the case for the buyer of Hans Purrmann's beautiful paintings. He later gave them to his son-in-law for building a house and starting a business. Today, the son-in-law is the defendant. When the defendant, who had been so richly gifted, wanted to turn the paintings into money, he discreetly turned to a Swiss auction house for high-quality art. Nevertheless, he claimed not to have known the high value.

The auction house dutifully enquired at the Purrmann Archive, who advised the auctioneer that the works had been reported stolen. Shortly afterwards, the police visited the car dealer in his workshop. Panic-stricken, the paintings were taken down from the meeting room and hidden from the police in the workshop. Is that what a bona fide owner does?

All this was not enough for the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court. It even denied the plaintiff's claim that the works had been stolen from his villa in Stuttgart, despite the submission of the investigation file. Moreover, the works might not be by Hans Purrmann, but a forgery. This rather rude handling was not only too much for us, but also for the Federal Supreme Court. The judgement of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court was appropriate, Shake the public's confidence in the administration of justicesaid Chairwoman of the Federal Supreme Court Stresemann.

But the law itself is still in need. The original intention of the Ersitzung was to help purchasers who had acquired stolen objects in good faith. However, the paragraph is so broad that anyone who has bona fide possession of an object becomes the owner after ten years. The burden of proof against good faith has so far still been on the person stolen. This must be changed urgently.

Mr Bullinger is the lawyer of the Kunstmuseum Bern, the heir to Cornelius Gurlitt's art collection. In a recent article in the FAZ, he makes a blanket denial of any good faith on the part of the generous testator Gurlitt. This is not only indelicate towards Gurlitt and his heiress, it is simply wrong.

In addition to the statute of limitations, the right of recovery is a veritable restitution killer in the case of looted art. If you want fair and equitable solutions, you have to change the distribution of the burden of proof. Incidentally, this is also the view of BGH Chairwoman Stresemann.

We continue to fight and hope that the new senate at the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court will recognise the plaintiff's ownership even before a hopefully imminent change in the law on the acquisition and that the pictures can soon come home.

Dr Hannes Hartung has specialised in international art law since 2002. He brought the case of Hans Purrmann's seated wife before the Federal Supreme Court.

15 Oct Successful restitution of a looted art painting to Poland

Dr Hannes Hartung successfully brought home a painting by Marcin Zaleski for the Republic of Poland.

For this, he negotiated an amicable solution with the former owner.

This is already the second successful restitution of looted art to the Republic of Poland by Dr Hartung.

The painting shows the interior of Milan Cathedral and was taken during the Second World War by Nazi art thieves.

taken to Austria and auctioned off there at an auction house.

You can read more about this case here.

The art of decorating law firms with art

A law office with empty walls and a featureless entrance area is not a place to feel at home, but it is the perfect occasion to get involved with art. A few pictures on the wall can do wonders for the effect of a room. Often, all it takes is one carefully chosen work. You don't have to go so far as to turn your rooms into a gallery. Or do you?

The law firm as a gallery

Dr Hannes Hartung of the law firm THEMIS Hartung & Partner in Munich took the initiative a good two years ago and actually transformed the reception and meeting room of the law firm into a gallery. The appropriately named 'GalerieKanzlei' is within sight of Munich's Pinakothek der Moderne. Of course, Dr Hartung is a collector himself, just like some of his clients - after all, he is also a not entirely unknown art lawyer.

Art suitable for the field of law

However, this should not affect anyone who is not on Art law from bringing art into the office. However, you should think about what you want to decorate your rooms with beforehand. Or, as it is called in modern German: What message should the whole thing convey? If you want to present yourself as a long-established institution that upholds tradition and stability, a three-hundred-year-old landscape in oil with a gold frame is certainly more appropriate than in a law firm that specialises in e-commerce or smart contracts. But contemporary art should not only be left to the 'young savages'.

Is this art or can it go?

Most people think of paintings first when they hear the word art. Collages or perhaps photographs also come to mind. Only the second thought is of object art, such as sculptures or installations. But if you have enough space, for example in the reception area, you should consider a sculptural work. Depending on the object, however, it may be advisable to warn the cleaning crew before putting it up, otherwise the work of art could suffer the same fate as Joseph Beuys' famous Fettecke, which was unceremoniously disposed of by a well-meaning cleaning lady.

The effect of colours

The well-known psychologist Carl Gustav Jung already studied the effect of colour on people. It is not for nothing that our language contains so many colour-related phrases, such as "yellow with envy". Art has the advantage that it can be used to set colour accents, whereas wall paint can quickly become overwhelming. Red, for example, is considered stimulating. Due to its powerful effect, a completely red wall in a conference room easily triggers aggression. A picture characterised by this colour, on the other hand, can lead to more animated exchanges in a meeting. Blue, on the other hand, stands for clarity and is generally considered to promote concentration and relaxation, which makes it ideal for placement above the desk, for example.

Matter of taste or professional fitter

There are said to be law firms where paintings hang on every wall because the owner's private flat no longer offers any space. In this case, personal taste determines the choice of works. If more attention is to be paid to the coordination between the room and the work of art than to a particular epoch or a particular artist, it can also be a good idea to consult an interior designer. They usually have good sources for art and furnish rooms as an overall concept.

Where to take from if not to steal?

Those who prefer to acquire in person have many options. For the irresistible feeling of having made a discovery, it is best to go to galleries or to exhibitions of art associations and universities. Connoisseurs and frequent travellers are more drawn to events such as Art Basel or Art Miami. Nowadays, everything can be bought on the internet, including art. On, for example, high-quality modern and contemporary works are auctioned off. Those who prefer fixed prices to the thrill of an auction will find what they are looking for on or, among others.

Do good and hang it on your wall

Those who want to act according to this motto can support individual artists or various social creative projects. Art from prison would be an obvious choice for a law firm: for example, the works of the art group of the Nuremberg Prison, which was founded especially for prisoners in pre-trial detention. Similar projects can be found in many prisons.

An original is an original is an original - but borrowed

It is undisputed that the effect on the viewer and the subconscious message behind it is quite different with an original than, for example, when looking at an art print. Depending on the work, an original can quickly become quite expensive. If you want to hang or display art just for art's sake, free of any thought of investment, or if you simply get tired of works quickly, you can also rent art for a limited period of time. In Germany there are around 150 artotheques, most of which are organised by municipalities and lend paintings, graphics, photographs, but also sculptures and sculptures for a small fee. This is a good method for all law firms that do not yet have any art objects to test whether this would not be something for them.

This text is taken from Beckextra - The MagazineYou can order the magazine here


© Verlag C.H.BECK oHG 1995-2019

05 Nov AWARDED! THEMIS is Art Law Firm of the Year 2019 at ACQ 5 Global Awards

This year, THEMIS Hartung & Partner has again been recognised by ACQ Global Awards.

We are pleased about this.

The ACQ Awards are among the most internationally recognised awards in the legal market and are

known for its profound editorial research.

THEMIS won the awards here

Germany - Art Law Firm of the Year 2019

Germany - Trust and Estate Lawyer of the Year 2019.

We thank them for these awards and see this as an incentive for the future.