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US court rules Madrid museum can keep Pissarro painting looted by the Nazis

(JTA) — A United States appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Madrid museum may keep a painting that had been looted by the Nazis from a Jewish woman and has been sought after by her descendants since 2005.

The provenance of Pissarro’s 1897 oil painting “Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain” is one of the longest-running Holocaust arts restitution cases in history.

Tuesday’s ruling had nothing to do with whether the Nazis stole the painting, but whether Spanish or California law applied in the dispute. It is also a departure from a recent spate of victories by victims of the Holocaust whose property was looted by the Nazis and whose descendants have sought to reclaim their family’s stolen assets.

The Pissaro painting was owned by Lilly Cassirer, born Neubauer, in 1939, who was forced to sell it for 900 Reichsmarks, or about $360 at the time, in order to obtain an exit visa for England. The money was deposited into a bank account that she was not allowed to access.

In 1958, Neubauer made a claim against the new German Federal Republic and reached a settlement for the stolen painting, accepting a compensation of about $250,000. Today, the painting is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars. Neubauer died in 1966.

The painting made its way around the world over the decades, from a private collection in St. Louis to Beverly Hills and then to a New York gallery, where Swiss art collector Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the heir to a German steel fortune, purchased it. For a while, Thyssen-Bornemisza kept the painting in Switzerland before eventually selling it to the Kingdom of Spain in 1993, which established a foundation and a museum from his art collection.

Upon learning the location of the painting, Neubauer’s sole heir, her grandson Claude Cassirer, sued for its return in 2005. He died five years later, and now his son David, his daughter Ava’s estate and the Jewish Federation of San Diego County are handling the case.

Circuit Judge Carlos Bea said Tuesday that Spain’s concern with granting “certainty of title” took precedence over California’s preference for discouraging theft and recovering stolen art for victims who live there. He specifically cited that the Museo Thyssen had “in good faith” owned and displayed the painting for three years before the Cassirers brought forth a lawsuit challenging its provenance, which, according to Spanish law, means the museum is the rightful owner.

In her concurring opinion, Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan said that Spain should have voluntarily relinquished the painting.

“Sometimes our oaths of office and an appreciation of our proper roles as appellate judges require that we concur in a result at odds with our moral compass,” she wrote. “For me, this is such a situation.”

The lawyers for the Cassirer family believe the ruling was incorrect, and said they would seek a review of the decision.

“Among the important issues, the court’s decision fails to explain how Spain has any interest in applying its laws to launder ownership of the spoils of war, a practice outlawed in the Hague Convention of 1907, and a series of other international agreements joined by Spain for over a century,” they said in a joint statement. “Nor does it explain how a national museum owned by the Spanish government justifies holding onto a painting that it knows was looted by the Nazis from a Jewish family in the Holocaust.”

“The Cassirers believe that, especially in light of the explosion of antisemitism in this country and around the world today, they must challenge Spain’s continuing insistence on harboring Nazi looted art,” the lawyers added. “This decision also gives a green light to looters around the world.”

Thaddeus Stauber, a lawyer representing the Museo Thyssen, called the ruling “a welcome conclusion to this case.”


The post US court rules Madrid museum can keep Pissarro painting looted by the Nazis appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Washington Says It Will Not Back Expanded IDF Operations in Rafah

Displaced Palestinians, who fled their homes due to the war provoked by Hamas’s terror attacks, shelter in a tent camp, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, December 29, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Shadi Tabatibi

i24 NewsMedics reported that Israeli airstrikes overnight in Gaza’s Rafah claimed the lives of 17 individuals on Saturday.

The attacks come as tensions escalate, with over a million Palestinians densely packed into the border city, awaiting a potential full-scale offensive amid widespread destruction across the enclave and limited avenues of escape.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced plans for military action, aiming to evacuate Rafah’s population and dismantle four Hamas battalions allegedly stationed in the area.

As IDF prepares for an intense ground operation in Rafah, its efforts to create safe corridors for Palestinian civilians are made more difficult by the fighting ongoing throughout Gaza. @mcauliffe_marym joins @Nicole_Zedek with the latest updates: pic.twitter.com/83PJfNMEdd

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 10, 2024

Unlike previous conflicts where civilians were urged to seek refuge in southern Gaza, the current situation presents a dilemma as there are no relatively unscathed areas left, leaving residents with nowhere to flee. Aid agencies have warned of the potential for a significant loss of civilian lives should an assault on Rafah occur.

Reports from Gaza City indicate intensified fighting on Saturday, with residents reporting clashes amid the ongoing hostilities.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, disclosed plans to coordinate the relocation of Rafah residents northward in anticipation of potential military action. However, Egypt has stated its refusal to permit mass displacement of Palestinians into its territory,.

The post Washington Says It Will Not Back Expanded IDF Operations in Rafah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza

View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

i24 NewsThe IDF revealed that it had discovered, in the areas of Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza, twenty terrorist infrastructure sites including a tunnel entrance near an UNRWA school. The tunnel, an “important part of Hamas’ military intelligence services,” passed under the building which serves as the main headquarters of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip.

Large quantities of weapons were found in rooms of the building, including rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives. Intelligence and documents discovered in the offices of UNRWA officials confirmed that these offices had also been used by Hamas terrorists, the military claims.

The post Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Qatar Says Hamas ‘Promises’ Hostages Received Medicines, But Offers no proof

One of the digital billboards of Hamas hostages that were taken down in London. Photo: Provided

i24 NewsIn a recent development, Qatar has informed both Israel and France that Hamas has purportedly agreed to ensure that hostages receive the essential medicines delivered to them in the Gaza Strip.

Last month, Qatar facilitated the transfer of these crucial drugs to Gaza following a comprehensive list compiled with input from the hostages’ respective doctors. The medications in question are deemed “vital,” primarily aimed at addressing chronic illnesses among the hostages.

This development comes amidst ongoing efforts to address the welfare and medical needs of the hostages held in Gaza, with international stakeholders closely monitoring the situation for further updates.

The post Qatar Says Hamas ‘Promises’ Hostages Received Medicines, But Offers no proof first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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