Stolen German Painting Found in NYC

James Weldon, a resident of East 73rd Street, inherited Adraen Coorte’s 1705 painting, “Still Life with Chestnuts.” This painting is now the basis of a Summons and Complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court by Dr. Konrad Meissner. Dr. Meissner, a resident of Polling, Germany, claims that his father was a well-known art dealer in Dresden, Germany and was in possession of the painting before it illegally seized by the German “Stasi.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, East Germany had established “fictitious fax obligations” by the “Stasi” to justify seizures of private art. Dr. Meissner claims that “Still Life with Chestnuts” was part of his father’s collection that was seized through a series of raids in 1982. When Dr. Meissner’s father challenged the seizures, the Stasi had him committed to a mental institution.

Dr. Meissner is attempting to recapture the painting, or to receive compensation for loss of use of the painting. In 2011, he traced its sale back to an auction conducted by a Swiss art dealer in 1988. The painting was sold to a New York couple, Mr. and Ms. Weldon, for a total of $76,974.

“Still Life with Chestnuts” is already the subject of proceedings in Germany, between the same parties. Jurisdiction over the painting appears to be a major issue. Therefore, in an effort to protect his claim from missing the three year Statute of Limitations in New York, Dr. Meissner commenced the instant lawsuit. The location of the litigation will not prevent the painting from being transferred back to Germany, should Dr. Meissner be found to be its rightful owner.

An attorney for the Weldons allegedly rejected Dr. Meissner’s claim by a letter dated June 13, 2012.

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