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Deal is reached for art with Nazi ties

AS THE result of an out-of-court settlement, San Francisco Bay Area resident Thomas Bennigson will receive $6.5 million from Marilynn Alsdor...

AS THE result of an out-of-court settlement, San Francisco Bay Area resident Thomas Bennigson will receive $6.5 million from Marilynn Alsdorf of Chicago for a Pablo Picasso painting reportedly stolen by the Nazis from Bennigson’s grandmother years before Alsdorf acquired it in 1975.

Additionally, as part of a previous agreement contingent on the settlement, Bennigson will receive a lesser sum from Stephen Hahn—the art dealer who sold the painting to Alsdorf and her late husband, James. That sum is to be equal to the profit Hahn realised on the sale.

According to Bennigson’s attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg, Bennigson may also receive some funds from Los Angeles art dealer David Tunkl, who planned to exhibit and sell the painting for Alsdorf in 2002 when he was notified that the Art Loss Register in London had determined that it had been stolen during the Nazi regime.

The settlement ends a protracted legal battle over Picasso’s 1922 oil Femme en blanc (Woman in White). The dispute began in 2002, when Bennigson sued to have the painting returned to him. ‘‘I think it’s a very good result, an extremely good result,’’ Schoenberg, a Holocaust claims specialist, said. He said estimates of the value of the painting range from $6 million to $10 million and added that Alsdorf ‘‘is essentially buying it for a second time from Tom Bennigson’’.

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A spokesman for the Chicago law firm FagelHaber, which represented Alsdorf, said the firm had no comment beyond a prepared statement, which said that though Alsdorf said the Picasso was purchased in good faith and with proper legal title, she agreed to the settlement reached because of her advanced age and ‘‘the need to resolve financial claims so her commitments to family and charitable organisations may be completed’’.

—LAT-WP

First published on: 14-08-2005 at 00:00 IST
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