Mondex has vigorously prosecuted a claim against the International Art Center, S.A, (IAC) for Oscar Stettiner’s sole heir seeking to recover the painting Portrait of Man, now known as Seated Man With a Cane, (Amedeo Modigliani circa 1919). The painting was loaned by Oscar Stettiner and shown at the 1930 Venice Biennale. It was confiscated by the Nazis and sold to John Van Der Klip at a July 3, 1944 auction in Paris, while the country was occupied by the Nazis.
The painting was not shown publicly for 70 years until John Van der Klip’s heirs consigned it for sale by Christie’s London in June 1996. The painting was ostensibly bought by the Nahmad Collection/IAC, which tried to resell it at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in November 2008.
Mondex has convinced the New York Court that they have jurisdiction to hear the case, that New York law applied rather than that of France or Switzerland (which IAC claimed barred the claim). Based on Mondex’s success in applying New York law including the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recover Act, the New York Court rejected IAC’s argument the case was barred by the Statute of Limitations.
Finally, Mondex has also overcome IAC’s last-ditch argument that New York is an inconvenient place to try the case in large part because witnesses, documents and events, including IAC’s agent, Sotheby’s activities in connection with the 2008 auction occurred and/or are located in New York. 1
a. Matter of Stettiner, 148 A.D.3d 184 (2017)
b. Maestracci v. Helly Nahmad Gallery, Inc., 155 A.D.3d 401 (2017)
c. George W. Gowen v. Helly Nahmad Gallery, Inc., 169 A.D.3d 580 (2019)