Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, February 26, 2023

A Jewish family fleeing the Nazis sold a Picasso in 1938. Their heirs want it back

Estate PlanningOne of Pablo Picasso's Blue Period paintings, "Woman Ironing (La rapasseuse)," is at the center of a lawsuit between a Jewish family and the Guggenheim Museum.

Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi's heirs want the piece's repatriation, which they claim their ancestors sold under duress while fleeing Nazis in 1938. Adler desperately sold the piece below value in 1938, taking a substantial loss to obtain short-term visas during their exile in Europe. The lawsuit alleges that the subsequent owner was "profiting from the misfortune of German Jews."

"Adler would not have disposed of the painting at the time and price that he did, but for the Nazi persecution to which he and his family had been, and would continue to be, subjected," the complaint reads.

The previous owner gifted the piece and the rest of his collection to the Guggenheim in 1978. The family is seeking the painting's return or compensation. The painting's current market value is between $100 - 200 million. The museum asserts that Adler's sale of the artwork was a fair transaction between parties

For more information see Toyin Oweseje “A Jewish family fleeing the Nazis sold a Picasso in 1938. Their heirs want it back” CNN, January 2023.


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