Thomas R. Kline

240.899.3205 direct

Thomas R. Kline advises clients on a wide variety of art, museum, and cultural heritage matters, including issues of ownership, theft, authenticity, breach of contract, insurance, and related disputes. Since 1989 he has practiced in litigation, arbitration, and dispute resolution, and he has represented governments, museums, churches, foundations, and families in recovering stolen art and cultural property. He also represents American museums and collectors responding to claims.

Many of Tom’s cases have involved art objects that were looted in wartime from Cyprus, Germany, and elsewhere. He was awarded the Medal of Cyprus Technical University for protecting the cultural heritage of Cyprus and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Das Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens).

tk-w-bookTom is experienced in matters concerning art claimed to have been taken by the Nazis during World War II in the systematic looting of art owned by Jews and others. A nationally-recognized authority on Holocaust-related art claims, Tom has appeared before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States, and he has helped clients resolve Holocaust-related claims both in and outside of court. Tom also advises clients on modern thefts from archaeological sites and on the illegal removal, export, and import of cultural artifacts.

Tom writes and speaks on art, museum and cultural property issues and serves on the Advisory Board of the German/English publication Kunst und Recht. For fifteen years, he has taught a course in museums and cultural heritage at the George Washington University Museum Studies Program.

Tom is the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation, and on the advisory board of the Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage.



  • Represented Autocephalous Greek-Orthodox Church of Cyprus and Republic of Cyprus in litigation against an art dealer in Indianapolis that led to the recovery of Byzantine mosaics that had been stolen from a Church in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus.
  • Represented the Church of St. Servatii, Quedlinburg, Germany, in recovering world-famous medieval religious treasures stolen in Allied-occupied Germany by an American Army officer and mailed home to Texas in the aftermath of World War II.
  • State of Baden-Württemburg v. Shene, 04-cv-10067-TPG, 2009 WL 762697 (S.D.N.Y. March 23, 2009). Represented German state and museum in its successful recovery of a 16th century volume of prints and drawings from a St. Louis book dealer. The decision – a rare grant of summary judgment in favor of a claimant – highlights the rule that military engaged in overseas combat should be safeguarding and not stealing cultural objects they encounter.
  • Vineberg v. Bissonnette, 529 F. Supp. 2d 300 (D.R.I. 2007), aff’d, 548 F.3d 50 (1st Cir. 2008). Represented claimants in the first American case to consider whether a forced sale can be considered a theft.
  • Malewicz v. City of Amsterdam, 362 F. Supp. 2d 298 (D.D.C. 2005), 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 615 (D.C. Cir. 2006), and 517 F. Supp. 2d 322 (D.D.C. 2007). Served as local counsel, helping pursue recovery of fourteen works of Kazimir Malewicz on loan from the Stedelijk Museum to museums in the United States. The heirs and the City eventually settled the case.
  • Goodman v. Searle, 96-6459 (N.D. Ill. 1996). Represented claimants in the first U.S. case of the modern era seeking recovery of art claimed to have been looted by the Nazis.


  • Looted Art and Cultural Property: Current Controversies, Future Resolutions (March 25, 2016).
  • New York County Lawyers’ Association’s 8th Annual Dispute Resolution Practice Institute (November 20, 2015).
  • “Legal & Ethical Issues Concerning Cultural Property and Holocaust/WWII Art Looting,” Law and the Visual Arts Seminar at American University’s Washington College of Law (March 2014).
  • Belle R. & Joseph H. Braun Memorial Symposium (October 15, 2015).
  • Vulnerable Heritage: Planning Responses in Iraq and Beyond (September 9, 2015).
  • Film Screening: “Woman in Gold” with the Karski Institute of Georgetown University (July 14, 2015).
  • Association for Research into Crimes Against Art Interdisciplinary Conference (June 27, 2015).
  • Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage Mid-Term Review Meeting (June 2, 2015).
  • Cultural Property: Current Problems Meet Established Law (March 27, 2015).
  • American Society for Environmental History Annual Conference (March 19, 2015).
  • After the Monuments Men: Nazi-Era Art, Modern Legal Problems (January 5, 2015).
  • From Plunder to Restitution and Beyond: Legacy Issues from Nazi Art Looting (December 15, 2014).
  • Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Cyprus, Now and in the Future: Kanakariá Mosaics Case and its Legacy (December 3, 2014).
  • “Looted – Recovered. Cultural Goods – the Case of Poland” (November 14, 2014).
  • The Monuments Men and Women: Saving Art and Culture Amidst Destruction and Conflict (June 30, 2014).
  • “Border Control: Importing the Illicit” at the New York University Art Crime and Cultural Property Conference (June 5, 2014).
  • Beyond Monuments Men: Looting, Misappropriation and Recovery of Fine Art (May 5, 2014).
  • “Art Crimes of the 20th Century” for the Arts Club of Washington (February 11, 2014).
  • Restitution and Repatriation: The Return of Cultural Objects (November 14, 2013).
  • Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage: Projecting our Past to the Future (November 7, 2013).
  • 2013 Annual Conference: The Monuments Men, Social Media, the Law and Cultural Heritage (November 1, 2013).
  • “The Munich Case,” Art Trafficking and Restitution Roundtable (September 16, 2013).


  • “The Specifics of American Legislation and Case-law in the Context of Restitution,” Kunst und Recht [Art and Law] (July 2015).
  • “U.S. Court Refuses to recognize a ‘Spoils of War’ Doctrine to Allow Title to be Transferred in World War II Trophy Art Theft,” Kunst und Recht [Art and Law] (January 2014).
  • “The Fall and Rise of Marion True and the Getty Museum,” International Foundation for Art Research Journal, Volume 13 Number 3 (2012).
  • “Portrait of Notoriety,” Wall Street Journal (July 27, 2010).
  • “Vorderasiatisches [Middle Eastern] Museum Berlin Loses World War II Trophy Art Case in New York; First German Cultural Institution to Fail on Claim for Return in United States Court,” Kunst und Recht.
  • “Q&A with Thomas Kline,” Art and Cultural Heritage Law Newsletter (Spring 2008).
  • “Museum Governance Developments: Trustees Taking Greater Responsibility,” Yearbook of Cultural Property Law (2007).
  • “Christie’s New York To Auction Picasso’s Still Life,” (November 1, 2006)
  • “Alternative Dispute Resolution Settlements and Negotiations,” C-Level Business Intelligence (October 27, 2006).
  • “Wiesenthal Centre Challenges Hunt Museum on Looted Art Issues—Hunt Museum Evaluation Group Reports Response to Irish Museum Community,” Kunst und Recht.
  • “Chapter: Art Market,” Yearbook of Cultural Property Law (2006-2010).


  • George Washington University, Professorial Lecturer, Museum Studies (2000-present)
  • George Mason University, School of Law, Adjunct Lecturer, Civil Procedure (1986)
  • The American University, Washington College of Law, Adjunct Lecturer, Legal Methods and Contracts (1977-1981)


  • Tom’s interview “The Mosaics of Kanakaria Changed the Attitude Towards the Return of Antiquities” was featured in the November 2012 issue of Politis Newspaper, Cyprus.
  • Tom was quoted in the March 2011 D Magazine article regarding Robert Edsel and the Monuments Men Foundation.
  • Tom attended a news conference with Paul Allen, trustee of the estate of deceased author Adrian Jacobs, regarding a copyright lawsuit against Scholastic Inc. in New York on July 14, 2010.
  • Tom was featured in an alumni profile in the July/August 2010 edition of Columbia College Today magazine.
  • On June 7, Tom was interviewed by the NewsChannel 8 program, “Let’s Talk Live,” in a segment entitled, “A pair of real-life Indiana Joneses, Willi Korte and Tom Kline, discuss their adventures.”
  • On April 7, Tom participated in a panel discussion at Georgetown Law School at an event entitled: “Final Restitution: Recovering Art Stolen by Hitler” co-sponsored by the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) and Students Against Looting Valuable Antiquities – a Georgetown Endeavor (SALVAGE).
  • Tom’s Art and Cultural Property practice was featured in “Searching for Masterpieces,” Washingtonian Magazine (November 2009).
  • Tom, along with Eden Burgess, was featured in the June 2009 issue of Legal Bisnow.
  • Tom was interviewed by National Geographic for two videos: “Man fights Nazi plunder” and “‘Treasure Wars’ Overview.”
  • Tom was quoted by Bloomberg and the Associated Press in two articles on December 10, 2008: “Max Stern Estate.
  • Pursues Nazi-Seized Art in German Collections,” and “Max Stern Estate Recovers Looted Art in Europe and America.Tom was quoted in “Nazi-Loot Panel Hopes Fade in U.S., Forcing Court Action,” Bloomberg Businessweek (November 28, 2012).
  • Tom was quoted in “A Memorandum Rescued Our Cultural Heritage,” on (November 27, 2012).



  • Medal of Cyprus Technical University for protecting the cultural heritage of Cyprus
  • Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Das Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens)