Seizures and Liquidation Sales in the United States during World War II: Tracking the Fate of Japanese Art Dealership, Yamanaka & Company, Inc.
The confiscation of private properties by the United States of America during WWII is rarely explored. The US government seized the assets of individuals and companies it considered enemies of the State; which included German, Japanese, and Italian nationals. This article highlights the US seizure and liquidation sale of the collection of Yamanaka & Co., Inc. to underscore the need to better study the actions of the US government during WWII and its implications for the discipline of provenance research.
My article builds on Yuriko Kuchiki’s research of the firm, and provides a framework on US policies before and during WWII, in order to facilitate a better understanding of what led to the confiscation of Japanese properties in the US; I incorporated additional legal, governmental, and news sources to provide a more holistic view of this particular seizure. Additionally, my work at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution enabled me to incorporate archival documents from the museum as well as a few other museums to further elucidate the history of Yamanaka & Co., Inc. during that tumultuous period. Despite its influential patrons and contribution in providing US museums, collectors, and other institutions with Asian art, the Japanese-owned company became enmeshed within the larger geopolitical conflicts between the US and Japan
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