Do you know the provenance of your institution’s fine art?

Learning an object’s life story can help avoid costly legal troubles—and the loss of fine art and funds
September 3, 2019 | By Margaret Bussiere via University Business

An alumnus wants to give back to his college, so he donates a drawing by Rembrandt van Rijn that he acquired through an art dealer 10 years ago. School leaders accept the drawing and hang it prominently in the campus museum.

Years later, a historian researching artwork stolen by the Nazis during World War II sees the piece and inquiries about its origins. University staffers dig into the work’s history and discover a suspicious gap in the chain of ownership between 1933 and 1945.

What should university leaders do? What risks and ethical responsibilities does the drawing now pose for the school?

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