Court: Van Gogh stays with Taylor
Actress Elizabeth Taylor can keep a Van Gogh painting that might have been illegally seized by the Nazis because the family that once owned it waited too long to ask for it back, a U.S. appeals court ruled Friday.
Taylor, 75, bought the 1889 painting “View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy” at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1963 for 92,000 British pounds — about $257,000 at the time. She keeps it in her Los Angeles-area home.
The painting, made by Van Gogh the year he died, is worth many times more in today’s redhot art market.
The Orkin family, South African and Canadian descendants of Margarete Mauthner, a Jewish woman who fled Germany in 1939, sued Taylor in 2004, claiming that the work had been confiscated by the Nazis and should be returned to them under the 1998 U.S. Holocaust Victims Redress Act.
Taylor said she was the rightful owner of the painting and asserted it had passed through two Jewish art dealers without any sign of Nazi coercion before she bought it.
In its decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco backed a lower court and ruled the Orkin family waited too long in making their claim.
DISPUTE: Elizabeth Taylor bought the 1889 painting in 1963 for about $257,000.