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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
'Nazi loot' case to go ahead
Glanville
The Glanville family had a looted painting returned
The heirs of a Jewish art dealer whose collection is said to have been looted by the Nazis has won a round in his bid to reclaim the works.

Francis Warin is demanding the return of eight rare manuscripts from New York art dealers Daniel, Alec and Guy Wildenstein.

Lot and his Daughters
A website has been set up to trace owners of works like this one
Justice Marylin Diamond of State Supreme Court in Manhattan rejected the Wildenstein's attempt to have the case dismissed on Wednesday.

She said that the Wildenstein had not submitted "any proof of when, where and from whom the Wildenstein family originally obtained the manuscripts".

Warin is the great-nephew of Alphonse Kann who owned more than 1,200 works by Picasso, Manet and Matisse.

He also owned a set of eight rare illuminated manuscripts known as Books of Hours, from the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries.

Van Gogh
This Van Gogh was returned to owners heirs
The manuscripts fell into Nazi hands after Kann fled to England in 1940 and were missing until 1996 when the Wildenstein Gallery tried to sell them in New York.

Warin alleges that he sought to have the manuscripts returned but the Wildenstein's refused.

"When the manuscripts were discovered at the Wildenstein Gallery, each bore the Nazi inventory number identifying them as belonging to the Kanns," said Stephen Sommerstein, the lawyer for Kann's heirs.

Richard Bernstein, a lawyer for the Wildenstein, has countered that their case was "baseless" and should be dismissed.

He argued that the Wildensteins can show where it purchased several of the manuscripts.

Cezanne
Earlier this year a Scottish gallery found this Cezanne was looted
The Wildensteins say that Georges Wildenstein owned the manuscripts before he fled Paris for London in 1940 and that the Nazis mistakenly recorded their ownership.

In her 22-page decision, Judge Marylin Diamond rejected the request to dismiss the lawsuit and ordered a preliminary conference for 25 September when a pre-trial schedule will be set.

This legal battle comes at a time when many heirs of the Nazis victims are seeking to have stolen art works returned.

Many museums and galleries worldwide are also identifying works as having been stolen during World War II and are seeking their original owners.

See also:

20 Aug 01 | Arts
Nazis looted priceless violins
30 May 01 | Scotland
Nazi loot theory to art works
08 Dec 00 | Americas
Canada probes Nazi loot
21 Oct 00 | Europe
Nazi loot is won back
28 Aug 01 | Arts
Nazi loot website expands
17 Feb 00 | UK
Hope for Nazi loot victims
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