Family Dispute Halts Sale of Pissarro Stolen by Nazis

Family Dispute Halts Sale of Pissarro Stolen by Nazis
The rightful ownership of a Pissarro painting stolen by the Nazis remains in question today after it was removed from sale an hour before a Christie’s auction began last night in London.

The peaceful spring view of the Seine, titled Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut (1903), was estimated to sell for £900,000–1.5 million ($1.5–2.4 million), but teams of lawyers frantically engaged in secret negotiations could not decide who should receive the proceeds of an eventual sale. The painting had been confiscated by Nazis in March 1938 and returned to Gisela Bermann-Fischer, an heir of the original owner, just last year. Now it’s at the center of a complicated and bitter family argument involving Bermann-Fischer and her nephew Itai Shoffman, who is representing other family members. Shoffman, a New Yorker, arrived in London disputing Bermann-Fisher’s right to sell the painting and hoping for a 50-50 split. He was offered 20 percent yesterday afternoon but considered it, in his words, “a mockery,” leading to last night’s dramatic standoff.

Read more at the London Times.