Looted Monet may be kept out of exhibit

The Art Loss Register is a compilation of Jewish-owned artworks seized by the Nazis throughout occupied Europe. The Register currently lists some 3,000 such works.

After it was confiscated, the painting entered the personal collection of Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim Von Ribbentrop, who organized the systematic plunder of Jewish-owned art.

Descendants of Rosenberg now want the painting and are considering their legal options, one of which involves a lawsuit that will prevent the work from leaving the United States.

The Rosenberg family of New York identified the painting — one of 48 depictions of water lilies that Monet painted in the garden of his home in Giverny, France — from a photograph of paintings that were owned by Paul Rosenberg.

The work is one of 58 paintings that the family has asked the Art Loss Register to trace.

Since it was recovered after the war, the work was held in trust by the Musee Nationaux de France. Since 1975, it has been in the care of the Musee des Beaux-Arts in the city of Caen.

Based on the provenance of the work, both the Boston museum and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which hoped to include the painting in its exhibition, are believed to have been aware of work's origins.

"It is important to remember that this is a very shady period of history," said James Emson, Art Loss Register's director. "We do know, however, that this painting was in the collection of Von Ribbentrop and that it was among the 40,000 items seized by the Allies and handed over to France at the end of the war.

"All but 2,085 were returned to their owners, and the remainder were distributed for safekeeping to Paris and provincial museums."