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Madrid museum rejects US court ruling on painting loaned to Nazi Germany

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Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza museum said Friday it will retain a valuable painting by French impressionist artist Camille Pissarro even after a Los Angeles court ruled it belongs to a US citizen whose relatives were forced to loan the work to Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

At the centre of the tug of war is Pissarro's "rue Saint-Honore, apres-midi, effet de pluie" (literally, "rue Saint Honore, afternoon, the effect of rain").

Claude Cassirer, 84, who took the issue to court in 2000 upon discovering the painting in the museum, is the nephew of Lilly Cassirer, a Jewish woman who, he says, was forced to hand over the work for a symbolic sum in order to leave Germany in 1939 on the eve of World War II.

Carlos Fernandez de Henestrosa, director of the Thyssen-Bornemisza foundation, told AFP that the museum "intends to appeal" the California ruling.

Pissarro (1830-1903) painted the work in 1897, and Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought it from a New York gallery in 1976.

The Spanish state acquired the baron's collection in 1993.

Both the museum and Madrid authorities believe any demand for the painting to be returned should be made to a Spanish court.

Fernandez de Henestrosa told AFP that before the museum acquired the work "a whole series of verifications were undertaken to ascertain ownership of works and to establish they all did indeed belong" to the baron.



AFP 082024 GMT 09 06

COPYRIGHT 2006 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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