Guggenheim Museum faces lawsuit over Picasso painting

Written by Toyin Owoseje, CNN

One of Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period paintings is at the center of a lawsuit between a Jewish family and New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

The heirs of Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi want the restoration of the 1904 painting “Woman Ironing (La repasseuse),” which they say the men sold under pressure when they tried. to escape persecution by the Nazis when they were born in Germany in 1938.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Friday, alleges that Adler acquired the artwork in 1916 from Munich art gallery owner Heinrich Thannhauser but sold it below market value. to Thannhauser’s son, Justin, in 1938 for about $1,552. The lawsuit alleges that Adler has taken significant damages because of his family’s condition.

“Adler did not finish the painting at the time and cost he did, but because of the Nazi persecution he and his family suffered, it continued,” the lawsuit said.

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In the lawsuit, the families say Adler was the chairman of the board of the leading European leather manufacturer but things changed when the Nazi regime in Germany destroyed their lives.

In 1938, the family fled to Germany, passing through the Netherlands, France and Switzerland before settling in Argentina, the indictment said.

The Guggenheim Museum said it believed it was the dress "without necessity."

The Guggenheim Museum said the dress was “unnecessary.” credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

“The Adlers need a lot of money to get temporary visas when they are exiled to Europe. They can’t do it, on the run, and not knowing what will happen to them, “The Adlers need to finish what they can as quickly as possible to raise as much money as possible,” the lawsuit said.

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The heirs say that Thannhauser was “blessed” from the plight of German Jews. They also said “Thannhauser was well aware of the plight of Adler and his family, and that without Nazi persecution, Adler would never have sold the painting when he did at the price.” ,” according to the complaint.

Rosi Adler died in 1946 in Buenos Aires at the age of 68, while her husband Karl died at the age of 85 in 1957 while visiting his homeland.

“Woman Ironing” remained in Thannhauser’s art collection until his death in 1976. It was gifted, along with the rest of his works, to the Guggenheim in 1978.

Adler’s descendants, along with a number of non-profits and Jewish organizations named as plaintiffs in the class action, say they are accusing the painting of “criminal wrongdoing” of Solomon R. .Guggenheim Foundation.

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The family is seeking the return of the painting or compensation for its current market value, which is estimated to be between $100 million and $200 million, according to the lawsuit.

The Guggenheim Museum told CNN in a statement about “the needs and demands of a very serious recovery,” but believes it is “unnecessary.”

“Karl Adler’s sale of the painting to Justin Thannhauser is a perfect match between companies with a long and enduring relationship,” the museum said.

It added: “Extensive research conducted by the Guggenheim since it was first contacted by an attorney representing these plaintiffs indicates that the Guggenheim is the owner of the painting.”

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