Picasso painting sold by family escaping the Nazis can remain at the Met


(JTA) — A Picasso painting sold under duress by a German-Jewish businessman as he escaped the Nazis can remain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an appeals court ruled.

The court rejected appeals by the great-grandniece of Paul Leffmann, saying his family waited too long to demand the return of Picasso’s “The Actor.” It would be unfair to force the Met to give it up, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Leffmann and his family 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,” created during Picasso’s “Blue Period” in 1904-5, was donated to the Met in 1952. The museum acknowledged the prior ownership of the Leffmann family in 2011, a year after the family began legal action to have the painting returned.

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

The U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled in February 2018 that the Leffmann family did not adequately show that the late businessman sold the masterpiece under duress, which would have mandated its return to the family.

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