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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October, 2004, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Taylor sued over 'stolen' artwork
Elizabeth Taylor
Mauthner's family said Taylor ignored signs the work was stolen
Actress Elizabeth Taylor is being sued by the family of the former owner of a Van Gogh painting, who claim it was stolen by the Nazis.

Ms Taylor bought the painting, View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy, for $257,600 in London in 1963.

But the heirs of Jewish woman Margarete Mauthner want to reclaim the work, saying Ms Taylor should have been aware it was stolen by Nazis in 1939.

Ms Taylor's representatives were not available for comment.

'Careless' purchase

"We are asserting that Ms Taylor was negligent and careless when she bought the painting," said Canadian lawyer Andrew Orkin, Mauthner's great-grandson, who filed the claim in Los Angeles.

"Our complaint charges that she ignored numerous conspicuous 'red flags' in 1963 that the painting had likely been confiscated from a victim of Nazi persecution."

Mr Orkin said Mauthner fled Berlin to South Africa in 1939 after having lost most of her property as a result of "Nazi economic and political coercion".

Elizabeth Taylor in 1963
Taylor bought the painting at a London Sotheby's auction in 1963
Her South African and Canadian descendants were therefore entitled to reclaim the painting under the 1998 US Holocaust Victims Redress Act, he said.

Ms Taylor, 72, bought the painting at a Sotheby's auction in London and now keeps it at her Los Angeles home.

In May the actress submitted a claim to a Los Angeles court, asking it to declare her the legal owner of the painting.

Ms Taylor claimed Mr Orkin and his family had failed to show that the artwork was ever illegally seized from Mauthner.

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