The two institutions said they took the step to fend off an expected lawsuit from Julius H. Schoeps
, a German who has been waging a legal fight to recover artwork and property once owned by his
great uncle. Schoeps
demanded on Nov. 1 that the museums hand over both works, "Boy Leading a Horse," which is in MoMA's collection, and "Le Moulin de la Galette," in the Guggenheim's collection.
"Evidence from our extensive research makes clear the museums' ownership of these works and also makes clear that Mr. Schoeps
has no basis for his
At the time of his death, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy had been engaged in a series of manoeuvres that Schoeps
said were intended to protect his estate and an incredible art collection that also included nine paintings by Vincent van Gogh.
In a recent lawsuit involving a third Picasso, Schoeps
argued that his
great uncle only parted with the paintings because he
estate to be plundered by the Nazis.
An identical claim was tossed last month by a state judge in New York, who said Schoeps
hadn't yet taken the proper legal steps to have himself declared the rightful heir to the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy estate.
Christie's auction house predicted the painting, also known as "The Absinthe Drinker," could sell for $60 million. Schoeps is the director of the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam.
Over the years, he
has also battled to recover the family's country estate in Brandenburg, which remained in the hands of his
great uncle's Christian wife for most of the war, only to be seized by the advancing Soviet army.