US Court of Appeals confirms Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is rightful owner of Oskar Kokoschka’s painting Two Nudes (Lovers)

BOSTON, MA (October 15, 2010)—Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit issued its decision in the case determining ownership of Oskar Kokoschka’s painting Two Nudes (Lovers) (painted about 1913). The decision affirmed United States District Judge Rya Zobel’s May 28, 2009, ruling that the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) is the rightful owner of the painting, and any claim to Two Nudes (Lovers) is time-barred.

While the case was resolved on statute of limitations grounds, it is important to note that the Court of Appeals’ opinion by Judge Kermit Lipez (joined by Judges Juan R. Torruella and Paul J. Barbadoro) agreed with Judge Zobel’s conclusion that the family of the original owner of the painting, Dr. Oskar Reichel of Vienna long knew that Dr, Reichel had sold the painting in 1939 to the Jewish art dealer Otto Kallir. Kallir then brought the painting to the United States. Family members did not assert a claim to Two Nudes (Lovers), as they did after World War II to other works of art Dr. Reichel had sold.

Please see May 29, 2009 press release for Judge Zobel’s initial ruling in favor of the MFA.