Art Law: Museum Files $3 Million Suit

A local museum has filed a $3 million suit against a New York art gallery, saying the gallery misled it about the ownership of an Italian Renaissance painting that it later had to return to Italy.

The Springfield museum purchased "Spring Sowing" by Jacopo la Ponte from M. Knoedler & Company Inc. for $5,000 in 1955. At the time, a bill of sale said the 1567 painting belonged to "a Swiss lady" whose family owned it "for a very long time."

But in 2000, the Italian government contacted the museum with records showing the painting had been stolen from the Italian embassy in Warsaw during World War II. The Springfield museum turned the painting over to the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence in 2001.

The museum is suing for the picture's current appraised value of $3 million, Center reports here. I actually took a class in "art law" in law school. It is amazing -- and quite interesting -- how many different areas of substantive law are implicated by the world of fine art.