Judge says Met Museum can keep Picasso sold by Jew fleeing the Nazis


(JTA) — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by the estate of a German-Jewish businessman seeking the return of a Picasso painting sold in order to flee the Nazis.

The family of Paul Leffmann did not adequately show that the late businessman sold the masterpiece “The Actor” under duress, which would have mandated its return to the family, Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Laurel Zuckerman, Leffmann’s great-grandniece, is the executor of the estate of Leffmann’s wife, Alice. She sued for more than $100 million in damages for the painting.

The Leffmanns fled Nazi Germany for Italy in 1937. The following year, Leffmann sold “The Actor” to two art dealers for $12,000 in order to escape to Switzerland.

“The Actor” was donated to the Met in 1952. The museum acknowledged the prior ownership of the Leffmann family in 2011.

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