A painting from a valuable collection seized during World War II has been restituted to its French Jewish heirs, the New York Times reports.
“A Regatta on the Grand Canal,” by the 18th century Italian artist Vincenzo Chilone was discovered when its Italian owners decided to sell it this year.
They had bought the work in good faith at auction from Sotheby’s in 1985, but were unaware of its past, says Christopher Marinello, the chief executive of the Art Recovery Group, a company that oversaw the restitution. “The Italian collector bought the work in 1985 before the Washington Principles of 1998 [drawn up to help return art stolen by the Nazis],” Marinello says. “It was a different world back then in terms of doing due diligence, but there was still some liability there.”
The painting belonged to John and Anna Jaffé, whose prized collection of around 200 artworks was seized during the Second World War, and sold.
After months of negotiations, a resolution was reached this year with the couple’s heirs, led by Anna Jaffe’s great-great nephew Alain Monteagle, who have decided to sell the work at Christie’s this December. The work is expected to fetch £60,000.
“We have an agreement and the solution is that it is going to be sold at Christie’s and we will share the proceeds” Monteagle said. “We came to the conclusion that [the previous owners] acted in good faith. But we don’t accept that from a museum or a large auction house like Sotheby’s. They have records. They should know.”
The family is pursuing claims regarded other looted works, including a Constable landscape, currently in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in La Chaux-de–Fonds, Switzerland.