A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against Elizabeth Taylor by the heirs of a German woman who claimed to be the rightful owners of a Van Gogh painting in the actress’s collection.
Taylor bought the 1889 painting “View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint-Remy” at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1963 for $257,000 and keeps it in her Los Angeles area home. It is now valued at millions of dollars.
The South African and Canadian descendants of Margarete Mauthner, a Jewish woman who fled Germany in the 1930s, sued Taylor last October, claiming that that the work had been confiscated from her by the Nazis and should be returned to them under the 1998 U.S. Holocaust Victims Redress Act.
Taylor counter-sued, claiming to be the rightful owner of the painting and asserting that it had passed through two galleries and a another collector — himself a German Jew who fled the Nazis in 1933 — before she bought it.
In a written order issued on Feb. 2 and made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner ruled that state law gives plaintiffs only three years to sue after property is taken.