The judge expressed sympathy for the plaintiff but sided with the museum.
Sarah Cascone, February 8, 2018
Pablo Picasso, The Actor (1904–05). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2016 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
A Pablo Picasso masterpiece will stay at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art after a federal judge ruled on Wednesday against a family who claimed their ancestors were forced to sell The Actor (1904–05) in order to flee Nazi-occupied Europe.
Jewish collectors Paul and Alice Leffmann sold Picasso’s painting in 1938 while looking for a way out of the tightening noose of Nazism and Fascism. The couple wisely left their native Germany in 1937, fleeing to Italy, only to realize they were still not safe. The $13,200 ($12,000 minus the seller’s commission) sale of The Actor to Parisian art dealers Hugo Perls and Paul Rosenberg financed their escape to Switzerland, and finally Brazil.
The case against the Met was brought by the Leffmann’s great-grandniece Laurel Zuckerman, who was seeking $100 million in damages. Courthouse News was among the first outlets to report the court’s decision.