National Gallery sued over stolen Matisse portrait

London’s National Gallery was sued in a New York court last Wednesday (7 September) for the return of a 1908 portrait by Henri Matisse.

The three grandchildren of the portrait’s subject, Margarete Moll (known as Greta), filed suit for the oil painting or at least US$30 million in compensation (£23 million) in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Oliver Williams and Margarete Green of Great Britain and Iris Filmer of Germany claim the ‘Portrait of Greta Moll’ was stolen from their grandmother in the aftermath of World War II. Prior to her departure for the United Kingdom, Greta entrusted the painting to her husband’s art student. Agreeing to transfer the portrait to an art dealer in Switzerland for safekeeping from looters the student instead sold it to the dealer and absconded to the Middle East. From Switzerland, the painting moved to the US and passed through several collections including Manhattan’s now defunct Knoedler & Co art gallery before the National Gallery of London purchased it in 1979.  Continue reading