NEW YORK >> A federal judge in New York has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force the Metropolitan Museum of Art to return a Picasso painting to the heir of a Jewish businessman who allegedly sold it under duress.
Judge Loretta Preska ruled today that the museum can keep the 1904-05 painting, “The Actor.”
According to the lawsuit, businessman Paul Leffmann and his wife, Alice, sold the painting for $13,200 to finance their flight to Switzerland in 1938. Court papers say that’s much less than the painting is worth. It was donated to the Met in 1952.
The judge said the Leffmanns’ great-grand-niece, Laurel Zuckerman, couldn’t show under New York law that the painting was sold under duress. Her lawyer says his client intends to appeal.
The Met called Preska’s decision “well-reasoned.”