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Court Rules California Family May Proceed with Legal Battle over Nazi-Looted Art

A Jewish family may proceed with its legal battle to recover a valuable painting surrendered to the Nazis following a ruling by a U.S. appeals court on lost artwork.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Monday reinstated a California law allowing lawsuits to recover artwork lost as long as 100 years ago.

The heirs of German businessman Julius Cassirer are embroiled in a more than a decade-long effort to recover the 1897 painting “Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie” by Camille Pissarro and purchased by Cassirer the following year.

Cassirer’s son Fritz and his wife, Lilly, inherited the French Impressionist painting and gave it to the German government in exchange for visas to leave the country in 1939. Lilly Cassirer accepted some $13,000 in restitution for the artwork from Germany in the 1950s.

In 2000, Cassirer’s grandson Claude learned that the painting, now worth about $20 million, was hanging in a palace museum after changing hands several times and landing in the collection of a German baron, Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Claude Cassirer filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation seeking the return of the painting. Since his death, his grandchildren David and Ava Cassirer, and the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County have continued the suit, according to the Courthouse News.

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