The Hartford Courant covers an interesting restitution claim that springs from the Bolshevik’s appropriation of property to raise hard currency during the 1920s. Ivan Morozov owned Van Gogh’s “Night Cafe” at that time.
“The Night Cafe” eventually landed in galleries in Berlin and then New York, where Stephen Carlton Clark bought it in the 1930s. Clark was a Yale graduate and art collector. He died in 1960, bequeathing 40 paintings to Yale in his will. […]
“Clark’s title was good, and so is Yale’s. Clark bought the painting in good faith. When he left it to Yale, the painting had been publicly displayed for decades, and no one had ever contested Clark’s ownership of it,” Jonathan Freiman, a lawyer representing Yale, said Wednesday in an e-mail.
“If the Russian government’s nationalization of Morozov’s paintings violated Russian law, then Konowaloff should consider taking it up with Russia — not Yale,” Freiman said.
Morozov’s heir, Pierre Konowaloff, claims Clark “either had actual knowledge, or reasonably should have known, that Russia had no legal title to the painting when he sought to acquire it in 1933.”
(Hat tip: Howard L. Rehs)