IconLaw Blog

Heirs to Estate Fight for Cut of Looted Art Sale

When you think of an estate, you might consider property such as homes or other real estate as well as monetary assets such as bank accounts, investments and life insurance. Any asset that is valuable should be included in your estate plans, though, and that includes items such as jewelry, vehicles and art.

Understanding estate administration is not only important for you during the planning process, but also for your heirs as they work to protect your legacy. Many cases exist where heirs fight for access to assets years after an estate owner has passed away. One interesting example making headlines recently involves assets that date back to World War II.

A group of heirs of a Jewish art dealer have demanded compensation from a Monet sale. The Jewish art dealer was a Frenchman who died in a concentration camp during World War II. The family alleges that he was forced to sell or part with his art collection during that time.

The painting in question in the case is a Monet called “Haystacks at Giverny.” The value of the painting is estimated to be between $12 and $18 million. According to the family, the French art dealer acquired the painting as part of his collection.

The man’s grandson, who is an art dealer himself, told reporters that the man got rid of the painting under what he called duress. The history of the painting after that point indicates that it became available during World War II and was eventually acquired by a private art collector in Switzerland.

The painting is scheduled to be auctioned at Christie’s. The owner has reportedly agreed to share the proceeds with the Jewish art dealer’s heirs after the story about the painting was presented.

By understanding what all may have been part of an estate, heirs can protect interests into the future. Estate administration can be a long-term job, particularly with art and other assets are a part of the equation.

Source: The Jewish Daily Forward, “Jewish Heirs Get Slice of $18M From Looted Monet ‘Haystacks’,” JTA, April. 10, 2015

Do you need assistance with a legal matter?

Request A Consultation

Awards & Recognition