Nazi-looted Picasso up for sale by heirs of German-Jewish banker


(JTA) — A Pablo Picasso drawing that will be returned by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the heirs of a German-Jewish banker is up for sale.

The asking price for the “Head of a Woman” is at least $10 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Last year, the heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy asked New York art dealer Larry Gagosian if he would help them sell the drawing if they ever recovered it, according to the report. They said it is difficult for the several dozen descendants to share one artwork.

Von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a descendant of composer Felix Mendelssohn, sold the pastel work for less than its real value in 1934 along with at least 15 other significant artworks because he feared the Nazis would confiscate his estate. He died the following year.

In 1938, von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s family bank, Bank Mendelssohn & Co., was seized by the Nazis and transferred to non-Jewish ownership.

“Head of a Woman” was sold to art dealer Justin Thannhauser in 1934. The National Gallery of Art acquired the work through a donation in 2001, according to The New York Times.

The museum announced last month that it would return the Picasso “to avoid the heavy toll of litigation,” not because it agreed that the heirs’ claims were valid.

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