Following a six-year battle over the ownership of several works of prized Expressionist art, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court ruled this month that art dealer and collector Yris Rabenou Solomon and her family are the rightful owners of four paintings, which were alleged to have once been part of the collection of the late art collector and historian Paul Westheim.
Specifically, the Court's June 11th ruling affirmed the Solomon family's ownership of paintings by Otto Mueller, Paul Klee, Max Pechstein and Edgar Jene. The Solomons acquired the works from the late-dealer Charlotte Weidler (who was also Westheim's former lover). Years later, Margit Frenk, a stepdaughter of Westheim, brought suit against the Solomons, claiming Nazi duress during World War II forced Westheim to entrust the art to Weidler when he fled Berlin, and therefore the art rightfully belonged to Frenk and her family.
The Court disagreed, finding that a 1973 release and settlement signed by Frenk's mother in favor of Weidler barred Frenk's claim to ownership of the works, and that Frenk failed to offer any evidence to support her claim that her mother had been fraudulently induced into executing that release.
Speaking to ARTnews, William Charron, co-chair of Pryor Cashman's Art Law Group, who, along with Felicity Kohn, represented the Solomon family in the suit, said, "The Solomons are, and have always been, good faith owners of these paintings, and they are grateful for this decision. The Court's decision confirms that, despite years of litigation which the Solomons had to endure, Ms. Frenk presented no evidence to support her claims. We believe the Court's decision is absolutely correct."
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