A French court ordered a U.S. couple to return a Nazi-looted Pissarro painting to a Jewish collector’s heirs.
U.S. collectors Bruce and Robbi Toll have lost their bid to get back a Camille Pissarro gouache, La Cueillette des Pois (1887), which was confiscated last year while on loan to the Musée Marmottan Monet for a Pissarro retrospective. On Tuesday, a French appeals court upheld the 2017 decision of a civil court, mandating that the work be returned to the heirs of Simon Bauer, the Jewish collector from whom it was seized under France’s Vichy regime in 1943.
The Tolls said they weren’t aware that the painting had been looted when they bought it at Christie’s in 1995 for $800,000. However, in its decision last year, the civil court stated that all sales of artworks and other goods stolen from Jewish people by the Vichy régime or the Nazis during World War II had been declared void by French authorities after the war. The appeals court upheld that ruling and ordered the work returned to the Bauer family, which had previously received $126,373 in compensation for it from the French government commission that awards compensation to looting victims, a sum they’ve committed to return once they get the painting back. The judges didn’t order any compensation to be paid to the Tolls.
The decision “sanctions the right of the victims of acts of barbarity committed by the Vichy regime to recover, without limit of duration, the goods they have been disposed of,” Cedric Fischer, a lawyer for the Bauer family, told theAssociated Press.