Supreme Court rules to aid family seeking the return of a valuable painting stolen by Nazis in 1939

The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling this week that aids a California family in seeking the return of a valuable painting that was taken from a member of the family by Nazis in Germany in 1939.

The ruling centered around the question of whether a state’s laws or the laws of a foreign country should prevail in cases where federal courts must decide on property ownership.

In this case, the laws of California make it much easier than the laws of Spain, where the painting is currently being held in a museum, to prove ownership of an artifact such as a painting. The ruling by SCOTUS this week set a precedent for federal courts to prioritize state’s laws over the laws of foreign governments in cases like this.

The painting, a 1897 Camille Pistarro work titled “Rue Saint Honoré, Afternoon, Rain Effect,” is an impressionist piece that was owned by the Cassirer family in Germany until 1939, when it was seized by Nazis from Lilly Cassirer Neubauer as payment for a visa to get out of Germany.

The painting was traded for a total of $360, which was placed in an account Neubauer was unable to access, and the painting then traveled between galleries and collectors, eventually ending up in Spain.

“Judicial creation of federal common law to displace state-created rules must be ‘necessary to protect uniquely federal interests,'” Justice Elena Kagan wrote. “Foreign relations is of course an interest of that kind. But even the Federal Government, participating here in support of the Cassirers’ position, disclaims any necessity for a federal choice-of-law rule in FSIA suits raising non-federal claims.”

The litigation over the painting will continue in the lower courts.




The following two tabs change content below.
Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

Leave a Reply