A federal appeals court on Monday said the Norton Simon Museum can keep two 16th century masterpieces depicting Adam and Eve by the German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, which had been looted by the Nazis during World War Two.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 against Marei von Saher, who has been suing the Pasadena, California-based museum for 11 years to reclaim the paintings, taken by the Nazis in a forced sale after her father-in-law, Jewish art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, fled the Netherlands in 1940.
Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown said the “act of state” doctrine validated the 1966 sale of the paintings by the Dutch government, which by then owned them, to George Stroganoff-Scherbatoff, a onetime U.S. Navy commander and descendant of Russian aristocracy.
He sold them in 1971 to the museum, which has displayed them ever since.
Lawrence Kaye, a lawyer for von Saher, said he was “obviously disappointed” and would review the decision with his client.—Reuters