Appeal Filed After Court Rules Norton Simon Museum Can Keep Artwork Looted by Nazis

Published : Monday, August 13, 2018 | 2:36 PM

Detail of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Eve (circa 1530). Image: Norton Simon Museum

Marei von Saher, the American daughter-in-law of Jacques Goudstikker, a Jewish Dutch art dealer who fled the Netherlands during World War II leaving behind an extensive and significant art collection seized by the Nazis, has filed a new appeal before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Pasadena Star-News reported Monday.

This comes after the appellate court ruled last month that the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena is the rightful owner of two separate life-size portraits of Adam and Eve by German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder, which were among those looted by the Nazis from Goudstikker’s collection.

In the appeal filed Monday, the latest in a series of appeals since 2007, Von Saher’s lawyers argue that only three judges came up with the decision, the Pasadena Star-News report said, and that the case should be reheard en banc, with all judges serving on the court considering the matter and voting on a decision.

The paintings, done by Cranach in the 16th century, have been hanging in the Museum since 1971. Von Saher filed a lawsuit against the Museum in 2007 to claim the paintings, saying she was the rightful heir to Goudstikker’s collection.

The appellate court ruled in July that the masterpieces, collectively called the Cranachs, belong to the Norton Simon Museum because the Dutch government owned the title to them when officials sold the paintings in 1966 to George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff, who sold them in 1971 to New York art dealer Spencer Samuels, who then sold them to the Norton Simon Art Foundation.

In a concurring opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw said the issue was resolved in 2012 when the district court dismissed the case, finding that the plaintiff’s claims conflicted with U.S. policy on recovered art.

The panel applied the act of state doctrine, which requires that the acts of foreign sovereigns taken within their own jurisdictions shall be deemed valid.









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