Ownership Dispute Swirls Around NY Picassos

Heirs of German-Jewish banker say Nazis forced sale of paintings, now worth millions
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2008 5:10 PM CDT
Picasso's "Le Moulin de la Galette," one of two paintings at the center of an international restitution controversy.   (guggenheimcollection.org)
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(Newser) – The heirs of a German-Jewish banker are demanding that New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim relinquish possession of two works by Picasso, Der Spiegel reports. The heirs say the two paintings, Boy Leading a Horse and Le Moulin de la Galette, unjustly fell into the hands of American art collectors during the Nazi rise to power.

If the paintings were sold under duress by their Jewish owner, in an attempt to keep them out of Nazi hands, the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy might have a valid legal claim when hearings get underway this fall. But the museums claim the family was thoroughly Protestant, which they say "mitigated the impact of Nazi anti-Semitism" on Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.