The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California has ruled that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation in Madrid is the owner of a Camille Pissarro’s 1897 painting Rue Saint-Honoré, Après-midi, Effet de Pluie, which it purchased in 1993 from the collector Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. In 2005, the heirs to the work’s original owner, Lily Cassirer Neubauer, alleged in a complaint that the foundation knew upon acquiring it that the painting had been stolen by the Nazi regime in 1939.
In a decision issued on Monday, the court ruled that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection “acquired title to the painting pursuant to Spain’s law of prescriptive acquisition because [the foundation] did not have actual knowledge that the painting was stolen when it purchased the painting from the Baron in 1993.” The ruling also concluded that the Baron did not know the painting’s history in World War II when he bought it in 1976 from Stephen Hahn Gallery in New York.
The ruling in the appeal follows a 2019 trial decision by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection had conducted due-diligence in acquiring the Pissarro painting and did not know that it had been taken by the Nazis.
Thaddeus J. Stauber, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection’s attorney in the case, said in a statement, “Due to the Foundation’s early instructions to thoroughly and transparently investigate the modern day claims, the painting’s complete provenance history—which demonstrated clearly that the plaintiffs’ family was compensated for the painting and that neither the Baron nor the Foundation had any reason to connect the painting to the Plaintiffs’ predecessor—was provided to the courts.”
ARTnews has reached out to an attorney for the Cassirers for comment.