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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Actress Taylor fights for artwork
Elizabeth Taylor
Taylor bought the painting in London in 1963
Actress Elizabeth Taylor has asked for a judge to declare her the legal owner of a Van Gogh painting alleged to have been stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles, Ms Taylor said she bought View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy, painted in 1889 - legally in 1963.

The family of former owner Margarete Mauthner claimed it had been stolen by the Nazis.

But Ms Taylor's lawyers said there was proof Ms Mauthner sold the painting.

The four claimants - who say they are the heirs to Ms Mauthner's estate - said the Van Gogh had been taken after Adolf Hitler's regime took power in 1933.

'Reputable history'

They had contacted Ms Taylor's manager to ask them for the return of the painting, or proceeds from its sale.

Seizing of property and forced sales of art at low prices from Jewish owners were common in the Nazi regime.

But according to the 1963 London Sotheby's catalogue, where Ms Taylor bought the painting, the artwork was sold to two reputable galleries, Taylor's submission to the court said.

It was then sold to another German Jew, Alfred Wolf, who fled to Argentina in 1933 to escape Hitler's regime.

When they sit on their alleged rights for decades before attempting to dispossess an innocent, good-faith purchaser, the law owes them no special deference
Elizabeth Taylor's suit

Ms Taylor's suit also said a German book published in 2001 said Ms Mauthner's family had sold their artwork to fund their emigration to South Africa.

It said the actress had "great sympathy for those whose families lost their possessions" because of the Nazis, but the claimants "have not provided a shred of evidence that the painting ever fell into Nazi hands".

Ms Taylor also argued the defendant's right to the work should be barred by a statute of limitations, which lapsed in 1966.

"When they sit on their alleged rights for decades before attempting to dispossess an innocent, good-faith purchaser, the law owes them no special deference," the suit said.


SEE ALSO:
Liz Taylor sued by gardener
01 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
Tired Taylor cuts Cannes visit
22 May 03  |  Entertainment
Liz Taylor retires from acting
24 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


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