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Owner of Chagall Painting Looted by Nazis Wins It Back in U.S. Court

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A New York State Supreme Court jury declared yesterday that Mrs. Erna Menzel was the owner of a Marc Chagall painting which a Gestapo unit confiscated in the Menzel home in Brussels in 1941. The work is named “Nose and Ladder.”

The story, as unfolded during a two-week trial, began in 1932 when the Menzels, who are not Jewish, bought the gouache for $150. When the German army invaded Belgium, the Menzels fled, coming to New York in 1941. For years they checked art catalogs, seeking the painting. In 1962, Mrs. Menzel, then a window, found the painting listed as belonging to Albert A. List, the Jewish philanthropist and she filed suit against him to recover. Mr. List said he had purchased the work from the Peries Galleries of New York in 1955 for $4,000. The gallery said it had bought the work from a Paris gallery earlier that year for $2,800.

In addition to establishing the current value of the gouache at $22,500, the jury held that Mr. List was entitled to regain the full value of the painting from the Peries Galleries.

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