The Holocaust Art Restitution Project was co-founded in September 1997 in Washington, DC, by Ori Z. Soltes, Willi Korte, and Marc Masurovsky to document cultural property losses suffered by Jewish individuals, families, and institutions between 1933 and 1945 at the hands of the National Socialists and their Fascist allies across continental Europe; to conduct historical research into the wartime and postwar fate of stolen, confiscated, misappropriated cultural property.
In 2015, Spencer Peoples, Eric Sundby, and Alex Harbach established the Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution Foundation in Norman, Oklahoma. All three were students at the University of Oklahoma when the University’s administration under David Boren, refused to return La bergère rentrant des moutons, a painting stolen by the National Socialists, to its rightful owner, Léone-Noëlle Meyer of Paris. Out of great concern that their University was allowing the National Socialists to get away with their crimes committed 75 years prior, they pledged themselves to advocating for Dr. Meyer. Over time, they realized that their organization should advocate for all individuals, families, and communities whose private property was wrongly taken from them — leading them to change their name to the Institute for Cultural Restitution.
In 2017, following La bergère’s return to Paris, the Institute for Cultural Restitution and the Holocaust Art Restitution Project, having worked so closely together since 2015, decided to join forces as one new organization. Restructured and reorganized, the new Holocaust Art Restituion Project is happy to announce its launch. Under the leadership of the original co-founders from both organizations, HARP plans to leverage the differing strengths from its various board members to revitalize the art restitution movement in North America and across the world.