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Manhattan, NY - Heirs of German Jew Get Settlement in Dispute over Picassos

Published on: January 7, 2010 08:38 PM
By:  CBC
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Picasso painting 'Boy Leading a Horse'Picasso painting ‘Boy Leading a Horse’

Manhattan, NY - The heirs of a German Jew who sold his art in the 1930s to keep it out of Nazi hands have quietly settled their claims over three paintings by Pablo Picasso.

The three paintings will remain in the hands of current owners but each has reached a settlement with heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who died in 1935.

Their lawyer issued a statement Wednesday announcing the final stage of the agreement and said a U.S. judge who heard the case had made a significant ruling in the field of Holocaust-recovery art.

The decision by Judge Jed S. Rakoff establishes that victims of Nazi persecution who lost works of art under duress can apply for a remedy under U.S. law without needing to prove that Nazis stole the works.


The paintings affected in the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy case are:

The Absinthe Drinker (Angel Fernandez de Soto) (1903) by Pablo Picasso, owned by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.
Boy Leading a Horse (1905) by Picasso, owned by the Museum of Modern Art.
Le Moulin de la Galette (1900) by Picasso, owned by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Picasso painting 'Absinthe Drinker'Picasso painting ‘Absinthe Drinker’

Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a banker, was a nephew of the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn and a descendant of Enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.

He sold his valuable art collection, which included five Picassos, to Jewish art dealer Justin Thannhauser in 1934 or 1935 to avoid having it seized. Thannhauser escaped Germany and sold the paintings.

Judge Rakoff ruled that Mendelssohn-Bartholdy “never intended to transfer any of his paintings and that he was forced to transfer them only because of threats and economic pressure by the Nazi government.”

That ruling led to a settlement between the museums and Julius H. Schoeps, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s heir, late in 2009. Schoeps, of New York City, spearheaded the case on behalf of the family.

The agreement with the Lloyd Webber Foundation, which had sought to sell the painting, was reached early this year. The terms of the settlement are confidential, according to John Bryne, Jr., a Washington lawyer who represented Schoeps.

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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »


 Jan 07, 2010 at 09:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Hmmm. I sold some stock last year to covery my line of credit after the bank called the loan due to the bad economy. Will Judge Rakoff give me back my stock? This one is absurd.


 Jan 07, 2010 at 10:35 PM s Says:

is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with the naked boy?


 Jan 07, 2010 at 10:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
s Says:

is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with the naked boy?

Thats the whole point of it. But don't analize it to much.


 Jan 08, 2010 at 12:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Paul Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1841 – 1880) co-founded the chemical company Aktien-Gesellschaft für Anilin-Fabrikation (AGFA). AGFA was part of IG Farben before and during World War II. IG Farben manufactured Zyklon B poison for the gas chambers.


 Jan 07, 2010 at 11:49 PM Anonymous Says:

where is the post saying that these paintings are avodah zarah and the reform mendelsohn- schoep should get nothing because he is modern?


 Jan 08, 2010 at 03:21 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
s Says:

is it just me, or does anyone else have a problem with the naked boy?

I would have a problem if it said "Fully Dressed Boy"


 Jan 08, 2010 at 05:52 AM Dov S. Says:

While descended from the famous jewish scholar and philosopher, it is quite unlikely that Paul von Mendelsshon- Bartholdy was actually jewish, although I have not checked his mother's line.
Sadly, only 2 granchildren of the RaMaD (R' Moshe of Dessau) were buried as Jews.
Oy v'Avoi for such nachas.


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