Settlement in Nazi-Era Dispute

One of the week’s big stories I haven’t had a chance to talk about was the decision by the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation and the heirs of Paul and Elsa von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy to settle their ongoing claim.  The undisclosed settlement was announced earlier this week, just as jury selection was set to take place in U.S. District Court in New York. 

Unfortunately the settlement will not allow us to learn how these important works were acquired.  Both the claimants offered very different perspectives.  The issue would have likely been when the paintings were transferred — in 1927 before the Nazi rise to power, or in 1935 when Hitler had become Fuhrer.  Said Judge Rakoff, “I find it extraordinarily unfortunate that the public will be left without knowing what the truth is …  The public surely would want to know now and forever which of those diametrically different views was true, and the great crucible of a trial would have made that known”.

Boy Leading a Horse, Picasso, 1905-06/Museum of Modern Art

Le Moulin de la Galette, Picasso, 1900/Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
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