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Alumni UpdateHoward Spiegler, Beta Pi '66 Lectures at Cardozo School of Law

On March 6, 2019, Howard Spiegler, Beta Pi ’66, delivered a captivating lecture in the moot court room of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of the Yeshiva University. After Penn, Brother Spiegler graduated from the Columbia University School of Law in 1971. He is presently a partner and co-chair of the art law group at Herrick Feinstein LLP.

At the time he graduated from Columbia Law, there was no such category of law as “art law”. “Art law” is a term that has come to mean the legal recovery of lost or stolen art works, usually in a court of law. Brother Spiegler was one of a small group of lawyers that created the field.

The lecture was titled “Nazi Looted Art and the Legal Battle for Justice”.  It was explained that, during World War II, the Nazis were infamous for stealing art from Jews (and presumably others) as they carried out their campaign for the genocide of the Jewish people.

After the end of World War II, most of the stolen art had been hidden, shipped, sold, and/or stolen from the Nazis. The United States and other countries reached agreement that all recovered artwork was to be delivered to the governments where the original owners had resided. These governments would then decide in what manner, if any, the artworks would be returned to the descendants of the original owners. This agreement also referred to all artwork that was stolen and removed from its’ “home” country.

Besides representing descendants of art owners, Brother Spiegler has represented foreign governments in the recovery of artworks. He has represented Turkey in the recovery of gold and silver treasures stolen by tomb raiders. He has also represented East Germany in the recovery of artwork pilfered by American soldiers at the end of World War II.

After years of the recovery of artworks, some of which were found in various museums, to the rightful owners, Brother Spiegler summed up his mission as follows, “ (Heinrich) Himmler (Adolph Hitler’s secret service chief) once declared that the Nazis had to kill all the Jews because, if not, ‘their grandchildren will ask for their property back’. We and my many colleagues in this field are very proud to say that we have helped to prove Herr Himmler quite correct.”