Many museums in eastern Germany face an uncertain future. They have to return numbers of exhibits to their former owners. A 20-year time limit on returning art objects expropriated by communist East Germany is running out.
After the Second World War, illegal trade in art was rife, at least in eastern Germany. In communist East Germany private collectors and aristocrats in particular were systematically dispossessed. The public collections have now had two decades to come to agreements with the artworks' former owners. Where that has not been possible, auction houses now have cause to rejoice.