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Judge allows auction of a Picasso

A former owner's lawsuit to block the sale of the painting falls short.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 8, 2006


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NEW YORK - A judge ruled Tuesday that a Picasso painting can be sold at auction, despite a claim that its former owner was forced by the Nazis to sell it in the 1930s because his family descended from Jews.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff issued the order four days after Julius H. Schoeps, an heir to Berlin banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan to stop the sale.

The judge had temporarily blocked the auction of Portrait de Angel Fernandez de Soto.

The painting, expected to fetch up to $60-million, is scheduled to be sold at Christie's today.

The painting of de Soto, who shared a studio with Pablo Picasso, is being sold by the Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber Art Foundation, a London charity.

In the lawsuit, Schoeps sought to be declared the lawful owner. A lawyer for Schoeps said outside court Tuesday that he would refile the case in state court today.

The oil-on-canvas painting, signed and dated 1903, was described in a Christie's catalog as capturing de Soto's haunting face: "The elegantly dressed sitter appears to scrutinize the viewer with an intense gaze, his inner agitation suggested by the forceful brushstrokes and the cloud of smoke hovering above him."

[Last modified November 8, 2006, 01:53:18]


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