After 69 years, Tugendhat family wants villa returned
The Villa Tugendhat in Brno is the Czech Republic's only UNESCO site built in the 20th century. Considered a masterpiece of Modernism, the opulent family home was completed in 1930. In December, members of the Tugendhat family submitted a petition to have the house returned to their possession. But the city of Brno, the villa's current legal owner, doesn't want to give it back.
Augustin Kohoutek is their lawyer.
The city of Brno disputes that. At issue is the question of whether, under restitution law, a home can be considered a work of art. Pavel Zara is a spokesman for city hall.
"By our definition of the law, Villa Tugendhat is real estate, not a work of art. A work of art would be a painting, for instance, or something you can move around. It's not a piece of land or a building on it. And for that reason, we can't consider returning it.
Last autumn, the city of Brno began a bidding process for the reconstruction of the villa, but the competition was put on hold after a court found irregularities in the bidding. The heirs of Fritz and Grete Tugendhat decided they had to act, says Augustin Kohoutek.
One of the villa's claimants is the philosopher Ernst Tugendhat, who was once a visiting professor at Charles University in Prague, and who spend the first eight years of his life in the villa. Another claimant is Daniela Tugendhat-Hammer, a professor of art history in Austria who has been active in efforts on behalf of the villa's upkeep since the Velvet Revolution.
Unless the Tugendhats and the city of Brno come to an agreement, a court will decide who should be the villa's true owner.