Geri assists heirs who are seeking to recover artwork that was looted by the Nazis from their family. These cases involve complex legal issues of jurisdiction, statute of limitations, conflicts of law, international law, and proof of ownership, as well as extensive research into the decades old history as to how the painting was looted, the chain of possession and its discovery. The importance of this work was eloquently expressed by Hannah Rothschild, a British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker:
The destruction and pillaging of culture and cultural artifacts has been a hallmark of conflicts since wars began. What set Hitler’s apart was not just the scale, but also his determination to expunge and erase the lives and identities of Jews and other ‘undesirables’. This is why it is so important that our generation doesn’t, either by default, ambivalence, self-interest or inertia, enable Hitler to complete his goal. We must help families recover their memories and possessions. It is not simply about ownership or value; it’s about identity and, ultimately, love.
Similarly, Dame Helen Mirren, who starred in the movie “Women of Gold” recounting a years-long legal struggle to recover a painting looted by the Nazis, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
[I]t’s essential to understand what is preventing victims of the Nazis from reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. Logically, I think we could all agree that the right thing to do in every instance is to return the art to its rightful owners. The very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust but it was inhumane. And yet, still today, it seems there are still some out there who lack the will to recognize the victims and their families as rightful owners.
ESTATE OF MARGARET KAINER, et al. v. UBS AG, et al., Index No: 650026/13, Supreme Court State of NY, County of NY (2013): In this case, the lawful heirs of Margaret Kainer seek redress for an unlawful scheme on the part of a Foundation, a bank, and Christie’s. The complaint alleges that the Foundation, aided and abetted by the Bank, has falsely claimed to be the heir to the painting and that they conspired with Christie’s, who has vouched for and legitimized that scheme by selling the painting at public auction claiming that it had been restituted. The plaintiffs seek to recover the family Painting or damages for its loss.
Robert Colin Lewenstein, Francesca Manuela Davis, and Elsa Hannchen Guidotti v. Bayerische Landesbank, 17cv1600, USDC, SDNY (2017): In this action, the Plaintiffs heirs seek restitution of a renowned work of art by Wassily Kandinsky, entitled Das Bunte Leben, c. 1907 entitled Das Bunte Leben, c. 1907, which was confiscated from their family as a result of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The complaint alleges that it is now wrongfully held by the defendant bank, who displays it in a prominent Munich museum on permanent loan, has commercially exploited it in New York and elsewhere, and refuses to restore this valuable family heritage to its rightful owners.
Even in darkness it is possible to create light.