Heirs had sued for over $100 million in damages for painting

Court lets Met keep Picasso masterpiece sold for $12,000 by family fleeing Nazis

Appeals court rules that descendants of Jewish businessman who owned ‘The Actor’ waited too long to demand it be returned by NY museum

Detail from 'The Actor,' by Pablo Picasso. (Wikimedia)
Detail from 'The Actor,' by Pablo Picasso. (Wikimedia)

A Picasso painting sold under duress by a German-Jewish businessman as he escaped the Nazis can remain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an appeals court ruled.

The court rejected appeals by the great-grandniece of Paul Leffmann, saying his family waited too long to demand the return of Picasso’s “The Actor.”

It would be unfair to force the Met to give it up, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The painting is said to be worth some $100 million.

Leffmann and his family fled Nazi Germany for Italy in 1937. The following year, Leffmann sold “The Actor” to two art dealers for $12,000 in order to escape to Switzerland.

‘The Actor,’ by Pablo Picasso. (Wikimedia)

“The Actor,” created during Picasso’s “Blue Period” in 1904-5, was donated to the Met in 1952.

The museum acknowledged the prior ownership of the Leffmann family in 2011, a year after the family began legal action to have the painting returned.

People congregate at the entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) in New York City, on March 1, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/via JTA)

Laurel Zuckerman, Leffmann’s great-grandniece, is the executor of the estate of Leffmann’s wife, Alice. Zuckerman sued for more than $100 million in damages for the painting.

The US District Court in Manhattan ruled in February 2018 that the Leffmann family did not adequately show that the late businessman sold the masterpiece under duress, which would have mandated its return to the family.

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