The Commission for Art Recovery (CAR) is a non-profit organization currently active in the US, in Europe and in Israel. CAR seeks justice for Holocaust victims of Nazi art theft by championing the universal application of international laws that recognize the theft of cultural objects during genocide as a crime against humanity. CAR is committed not only to the restitution of artworks but also of history, and it therefore assists with collecting and publicizing information pertaining to formerly Jewish-owned art collections and persecuted Jewish artists for the benefit of both the academic community and the lay audience. Therefore, the organization also encourages and helps heritage institutions and governments to research, identify and publicize relevant documentation, focusing on the pre-war era, the Holocaust and the immediate post-war years.
Over the past fifteen years, CAR's legal activities, advocacy, research and education have played a key role in raising awareness and setting legal precedent regarding looted art and the history of 20th century Jewish art collections. Envisioned and founded by Ambassador Ronald S. Lauder in 1997, through its five Program Initiatives, CAR continues to advance the cause of restitution in Europe and the United States. Furthermore, CAR is seeking ways to contribute to the academic discourse on Jewish art collectors, collections and artists. Finally, activities to educate the public about the horrors of genocide and war crimes extend CAR's impact beyond the context of Holocaust art recovery and actively inspire other victims' rights groups to seek recourse.
- The Judicial Initiative uses litigation to encourage the adoption of international practices and principles that redress the injustice of looted art through restitution.
- The Legislative Initiative advocates for policies that support claims and remove impediments to the return of stolen art.
- The Historical Research Initiative locates missing art on behalf of Holocaust victims and attempts to persuade governments and museums to research, identify and publicize works in their possession that were stolen during the Nazi era (1933-1945). It also wishes to bring clarity as to what was looted and lost, and to commemorate pre-war Jewish collections.
- The Educational Initiative assists professionals with provenance research and offers accessible programs that raise public awareness about looted art and restitution.
- The Knowledge Exchange Initiative facilitates and fosters cooperation among relevant archival institutions and intends to create a wide community of historians, museum, archival and legal experts and scholars sharing information on the location and content of documentary heritage regarding the history of Jewish art collections.