Picasso's "Fruit bowl and cup"

Pablo Picasso's 1909 painting "Compotier et tasse" ("Fruit bowl and cup"). (AFP/Getty Images)

A 1909 painting by Pablo Picasso that has been valued at $11.5 million has been blocked from sale by U.S. officials acting on a request from the Italian government, which claims that the artwork was obtained with money from illegal activities. 

"Compotier et tasse" ("Fruit bowl and cup") was seized in late May by authorities in New York where it was being offered for private sale. On Monday, the Department of Justice issued a restraining order that effectively blocks any sale of the painting, according to a news release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

Officials in Italy had requested the U.S. to prevent the sale from going through. Italy has been investigating Gabriella Amati and her late husband Angelo Maj, who were the owners of the painting.

The couple is suspected of colluding with a Naples official to put in place "various schemes to misappropriate tax receipts collected for Naples by companies the couple controlled," according to the release. The couple is also being accused of embezzling tax revenue from Naples.

"Compotier" dates from Picasso's Cubist period, at a time concurrent with the ascent of artist Georges Braque.

ALSO:

Monet painting fetches $30.8 million in auction bidding battle

Topless Bea Arthur painting part of record $495-million auction

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' goes for $119.9 million at Sotheby's