Wednesday, October 31, 2007

US top court lets Liz Taylor keep disputed Van Gogh

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit against actress Elizabeth Taylor for owning a Van Gogh painting that a Jewish woman lost before fleeing Nazi Germany to South Africa in 1939.

The lawsuit was filed by the Canadian and South African descendants of the original owner, Margarete Mauthner.

Taylor, 75, purchased Vincent Van Gogh's 1889 painting "View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy" at a London auction in 1963 for 257,600 dollars. The painting is currently estimated at between 10 and 15 million dollars.

The suit alleged Taylor must have known when she bought the painting that it had been stolen by the Nazis, and accused her of negligence.

Taylor said the painting had been listed in Sotheby's 1963 auction catalogue as originally belonging to Mauthner, and then being sold twice to reputable art galleries before it was acquired by Jewish art collector Alfred Wolf.

Wolf fled Nazi Germany to South Africa in 1933.

A San Francisco court of appeals in May had already dismissed the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld a lower court's February 2005 ruling dismissing the case.


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