£10m Giotto painting illegally removed from Italy, high court finds
Art Law

£10m Giotto painting illegally removed from Italy, high court finds

The high court has ruled that a £10m painting by the 14th-century Florentine master Giotto was removed from Italy unlawfully, rendering it “effectively unsellable” according to one expert. The court found that Arts Council England (ACE) was justified in rejecting an application to export it from Britain to Switzerland. The artwork was brought to Britain by Kathleen Simonis, who purchased it in Florence for about £3,500 in 1990, when it was thought to be an unremarkable 19th-century panel painting. Restoration work led to its subsequent upgrading to one of the most important painters of his school. Lost, stolen, blown up and fed to pigs: the greatest missing masterpieces Read more ACE is responsible for issuing export licences for cultural property leaving Britain. In rejecting Simonis’s application, it decreed that, under EU law, it had no power to grant an export licence. Concluding that the “competent authority” under EU law for a licence was the Italian authorities, it offered instead to issue an export licence for the return of the painting to Italy. Simonis was accused in the high court of having “spirited” the painting from Italy without a valid licence. Earlier export licences that allowed it to travel freely […]

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