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Heirs to Nazi-looted painting win U.S. appeal in case against Spanish museum – Metro US

Heirs to Nazi-looted painting win U.S. appeal in case against Spanish museum

Camille Pissarro’s “Rue Saint-Honore in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain,
Camille Pissarro’s “Rue Saint-Honore in the Afternoon. Effect of Rain, 1897” is displayed at Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Jewish family that is trying to reclaim a Camille Pissarro painting seized by the Nazis in 1939 and now owned by a leading Spanish museum, court documents show.

In the latest twist in a two-decade legal saga, Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously on Thursday that the dispute between the Cassirer family and Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation should be decided according to the law of the state of California, and not U.S. federal law.

The appeal case, brought by the heirs of Lilly Cassirer, overturned the 2019 verdict of a California court that under federal law the Madrid museum was the rightful owner of the 1897 Paris street scene.

“The family believes this is a success and they are hopeful that justice will be served,” Bernardo Cremades, lawyer of the Jewish Community of Madrid and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, which are helping the Cassirers, told Reuters on Friday.

The case will now return to the lower courts.

“Under California’s law a person cannot consolidate the property of any asset that’s been stolen,” Cremades said.

“In this case there is no doubt, and the Thyssen Foundation does not deny it, that the painting was plundered by the Nazis during World War Two.”

The Thyssen Museum said in a statement it was confident that the appeals court in California would rule in its favour.

Lilly Cassirer, whose family owned an art gallery and publishing house, inherited “Rue Saint-Honore, Apres-midi. Effet de Pluie” in 1926. She was forced to surrender the Impressionist painting to the Nazis in 1939 in order to obtain exit visas from Germany.

The artwork resurfaced in the United States in 1951, where it remained until it was purchased by Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza for $300,000 in 1976. His collection gave rise to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo and Silvio Castellanos; Additional reporting by Isla Binnie, Michael Gore and Susana Vera; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Catherine Evans)

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