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Art Law Recent Developments in Art Litigation and Art Finance

One Woman’s Trash Is Another Woman’s Treasure

Posted in Art Recovery/Theft

A West Virginia woman who purchased an authenticate miniature painting by renowned French impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, for $7 at a flea market along with other trinkets, is fighting in a Virginia federal court to keep ownership of the small work known as “Paysage bords de Seine” (On the Shore of the Seine).  According to reports, prior to authenticating the painting, the woman stored the diminutive painting in a plastic trash bag for over two years. However, after the work was offered for auction last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stopped the sale and confiscated the work on the grounds that it had been stolen from a Baltimore museum in 1951. The woman argues that she is an innocent buyer who should retain the painting. The federal government filed an action to determine ownership of the work last month in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.  Each party has been instructed by the court to submit written pleadings setting forth the legal basis for the ownership interest in the Renoir.