MANHATTAN (CN) – A South Korean art collector sued Christie’s for $235,500, the amount she paid for a Marie Laurencin “Portrait” in 1991. Yoon Young Im says that when she consigned the piece to Sotheby’s for sale in 2006, Sotheby’s told her the Nazis had stolen it from Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg during World War II.
Im says Sotheby’s kept the painting and won’t sell it or return it. She says she has no duty to assess the Rosenberg family’s claim or litigate it “so long as that claim appears to be colorable.”
“The effect of the claim is to render the painting unmarketable as stolen property,” Im claims in Federal Court.
Through counsel, she demanded restitution from Christie’s in January and the auction house has not responded, “except to say that it is investigating” her claim, she says.
She says Christie’s was negligent, as the Rosenberg family had listed the painting as stolen in 1963, and the French government had freely circulated the Rosenbergs’ list of around 100 stolen paintings at about that time – long before Christie’s sold the portrait to her.
Laurencin was known as a portraitist and was one of the few female Cubists, though her art differed from most Cubists’ in its pastel colors and penchant for curvilinear forms. She was particularly known for her portraits of women.
Im is represented by Richard Altman.