Art: In Trust

When the Army transport James Parker docked at a Manhattan pier last fortnight, nobody on board would talk about the 40 crates in the hold. The War Department was only slightly more talkative: it admitted that the crates contained a priceless museum-load of old masters. The paintings had been brought to the U.S. from destroyed or damaged German museums. Washington's National Gallery of Art had arranged (through its board chairman, Chief Justice Harlan Fiske Stone) to keep them "in trust for the people of Germany or the other rightful owners."

Last week Chief Justice Stone produced a list of the paintings,...

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