Pablo Picasso painting sought by descendants of Jewish banker

Pablo Picasso painting sought by descendants of Jewish banker
A detail of "Madame Soler," a painting by Pablo Picasso.

A painting by Pablo Picasso is at the center of a recent lawsuit filed by descendants of a prominent German Jewish banker who claim the artwork was lost during the Nazi regime. The plaintiffs are suing the German state of Bavaria for refusing to return the painting.

The descendants of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy claim that "Madame Soler," a painting created by Picasso around 1903, belongs to them. They maintain that Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was compelled to sell the painting during the Nazi regime as a result of the financial hardship he endured as a Jew.


Mendelssohn-Bartholdy was a relative of composer Felix Mendelssohn.

The family members say that a division of the Bavarian state government -- the Bavarian State Paintings Collection -- acquired the painting in New York in 1964 from art dealer Justin Thannhauser, who himself had acquired the work from Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in 1934. The plaintiffs claim that they have attempted to seek restitution from the Bavarian government since 2009, but to no avail.

"Madame Soler," which dates from Picasso's blue period, depicts a woman seated with her arms resting on her lap. A report in the New York Post states that the painting is worth an estimated $100 million.

The lawsuit to reclaim the painting has been filed in New York.