Masterpiece Stolen By Nazis Belongs To Madrid Museum

Madrid Museum Is Rightful Owner Of Iconic Artwork

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid. Credit:

An iconic painting, with a chequered history, has officially been acknowledged to be the rightful possession of a museum in Madrid.

On Tuesday, January 9, a US appeals court affirmed that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid is the rightful owner of a Camille Pissarro painting.

This ruling marks a significant moment in the artwork’s eventful history, it was previously stolen by the Nazis in 1939.

Long Legal Battle Reaches Conclusion

The legal struggle dates back to 2005 in California, when Claude Cassirer, Lilly Cassirer’s grandson, sued the Spanish State and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation.

The lawsuit set off a 15-year legal journey that culminated in August 2020, when the United States Court of Appeals declared the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation as the painting’s legitimate owner.

The litigation involved the Cassirer family, of Jewish origin, who have been contesting the ownership of ‘Rue St. Honore in the Afternoon, Rain Effect’, a piece hanging in the Madrid museum since 1993.

The Turning Tides Of Legal Decisions

In a 2019 ruling, a Los Angeles court also acknowledged the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation as the painting’s rightful owner. However, in a twist, the US Supreme Court in April 2022 sided with the Cassirer family.

They ruled that California’s conflict of laws should prevail over federal rules. The Court considered that ‘once a foreign State lacks immunity from jurisdiction, it is subject to the same rules of liability as a private entity.’

Spanish State’s Stance And Legal Arguments

The Spanish State’s legal services, represented by State lawyer Maria del Carmen Acedo, supported the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation in 2017.

They argued against the application of article 1956 of the Civil Code, suggested by the Jewish Community of Madrid and the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain. This article requires a conviction against someone for theft or robbery, which was not the case here.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.