Art Law

Jewish Family Loses Legal Battle To Recover Painting Stolen By Nazis

A visitor in 2005 views the impressionist painting called Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie, painted in 1897 by Camille Pissarro, on display in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. A Jewish family has lost a 15-year legal battle to recover a painting stolen by Nazis during World War II. An 1897 impressionist work by Camille Pissarro, Rue Saint-Honoré, Après-midi, Effet de Pluie, depicting a rain-covered Paris street, had been in the family since 1900. But when Fritz and Lilly Cassirer decided to flee Nazi Germany in 1939, the government had a condition: If they wanted a visa to leave the country, they needed to hand over the oil painting in exchange for about $360 — well below the painting’s value. The family traded the painting for freedom. Lilly Cassirer was never able to access the money, which was in a blocked account. She spent years trying to find the painting before she died in 1962. The family never saw the painting again — until, in 1999, a friend of Lilly Cassirer’s grandson Claude Cassirer found it hanging in a Madrid museum. Thus began a decades-long quest to retrieve the painting, now valued in the tens of millions of dollars. […]


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