A judge ruled that the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Foundation can continue to fight for ownership of two Picasso paintings. Julius Schoeps, a University of Potsdam professor, has claimed that his family should own the paintings since “Boy Leading a Horse” and “Le Moulin de la Galette” were sold during the Nazi reign in Germany by his relative, a German Jewish banker. Bloomberg reports:
The paintings had been part of the private collection of Paul Robert Ernst von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who died in 1935. Schoeps, whose grandmother was a sister of von Mendelssohn- Bartholdy, claimed he and other heirs were the rightful owners and that he might sue to have the paintings returned, according to court papers.
The museums filed a pre-emptive complaint, asking a judge to declare Schoeps had no valid claim to the paintings. Schoeps asked that the suit be dismissed because he hadn’t been appointed by the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy heirs as a representative of the estate of his relative and therefore wasn’t the proper person to be sued.
U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff rejected Schoeps’s request yesterday, leaving it up to the parties whether to add the other heirs to the case so the ownership matter could be decided on the merits later. Schoeps has applied to become the official representative of the von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy estate.