Gallery is hit by claim over Nazi theft

The Times 27 April 2004
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

ONE of Britain’s most respected commercial galleries is facing legal action over claims that a 15th-century Old Master that it bought for stock was stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Beneficiaries of the estate of an Austrian-Jewish banker are demanding that Agnew’s of Old Bond Street return a painting by Bernardino Pinturicchio (1454-1513), the Italian Renaissance artist.

They say that the 1480s Madonna and Child was owned by Julius Priester (1874-1955), who escaped from Vienna in 1938. Through their solicitors, Withers, the beneficiaries of his estate have told Agnew’s that their proof of ownership includes an insurance valuation of 1937 and an illustration in a 1954 report by the Viennese police.

The Pinturicchio was bought by Richard Kingzett, a former director and now consultant to Agnew’s. He told The Times yesterday that he bought it in good faith.
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