US Court rules Madrid museum can keep Nazi-looted Pissaro painting

Originally published at: US Court rules Madrid museum can keep Nazi-looted Pissaro painting - Boing Boing US Court Sides With Museum That Refuses to Return Nazi-Looted Pissarro Painting

One detail from one of the stories that may have made the case more legally complex:

So at least there was a legal recognition that it was stolen, and she did receive compensation for it. Not $30M, but $250K in 1958 dollars is still somewhat significant. Worth somewhere around $2.6M in today’s dollars.

More importantly, thank goodness she was able to escape Nazi Germany in 1939! Not a moment too soon.


I looked through both links and the Supreme Court story about the same painting from 2 years ago and still am not completely clear why the US courts are involved at all. I think it might be because the person was a US citizen/estate is, or the art was purchased at one point in the US?

Considering the Supreme Court overturned the last decision and said it must be decided based on California law, and they instead used Spanish law, I imagine either the next appeal or the one after will overturn this again. Come back in 4-6 years for the next round.


Perhaps they can take the name of the sleazeball baron who received stolen goods off the museum. That would be fitting.


Suprem Court Decision:

The Cassirer plaintiffs
urged the use of California’s choice-of-law rule; the defend-
ant Foundation advocated a rule based in federal common
law. The courts below, relying on a minimally reasoned
Ninth Circuit precedent, picked the federal option. See 153
F. Supp. 3d 1148, 1154 (CD Cal. 2015), aff ’d, 862 F. 3d 951,
961 (CA9 2017), cert. denied, 584 U. S. ___ (2018). That
federal choice-of-law rule, they further held, commanded
the use of Spanish (not Californian) property law to resolve
the ownership issue.

The path of our decision has been as short as the hunt for
Rue Saint-Honoré was long; our ruling is as simple as the conflict over its rightful owner has been vexed. A foreign
state or instrumentality in an FSIA suit is liable just as a
private party would be. See §1606. That means the stand-
ard choice-of-law rule must apply. In a property-law dis-
pute like this one, that standard rule is the forum State’s
(here, California’s)—not any deriving from federal common
Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the
Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded for fur-
ther proceedings consistent with this opinion.

so California and the Federal system each have a scheme for determining choice of law. The Supreme court said that the federal scheme did not apply-- California’s scheme must be used.

So the 9th circuit then applied California’s test:

We then evaluate Step Three of California’s choice-of-
law test, the so-called “comparative impairment” analysis,
under which we resolve such a conflict by applying the law
of the jurisdiction whose governmental interests would be
the more impaired were its law not applied. See Kearney,
137 P.3d at 934. We conclude that, under the facts of this
case, Spain’s governmental interests would be more
impaired by the application of California law than would
California’s governmental interests be impaired by the
application of Spanish law. Thus, applying California’s
choice-of-law test, we hold that Spanish law must apply.

Tuesdays decision from the 9th circuit:

and I guess any further appeal would have rested on whether the 9th circuit correctly interpreted California law, becoming yet more abstruse.

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I was at the Thyssen in November last year. It’s a very nice museum, but it was clear right from the infographic about the history of the family that they were eliding something pretty dark in the 30’s and 40s.

We started talking about how there must be more to the story and my girlfriend, who is fluent in Spanish, got a Spanish language book about the museum which is quite a volume - about 500 pages - and just started reading it last night as a total coincidence. She obviously hasn’t gotten very far but given part of the cover art is a picture of Hitler, I can’t imagine it’s a completely clean tale.


It’s a complicated story, but the family money is in part the worst kind of blood money: Nazi blood money.


The spanish translation of

( La historia secreta de los Thyssen) does feature Hitler on the cover.


I hadn’t looked at it closely (don’t speak Spanish as previously noted) but you’re correct.


I, uh, know some people who had their land stolen. Any chance of the US moving on that? No? Ok.

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The Office Yes GIF

Wait what?


“This child? So good! The paintings are magical, just like she is. A little baby but still a master artist!”


Needs more @frauenfelder

Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro (/pɪˈsɑːroʊ/ piss-AR-oh, French: [kamij pisaʁo]; 10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903)

This painting was painted in 1897

Pissarro’s 1897 oil painting, Rue St. Honoré, Apres Midi, Effet de Pluie ,


There’s also this macabre detail.


says that “A number of notable historians have disputed Litchfield’s version of the massacre,”


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