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Court rules: Pissarro painting belongs to Jewish collector

A French appeals court ruled against an American couple that sought to get back the 1887 painting called La Cueillette des Pois (“Picking Peas”) by French impressionist painter Camille Pissarro that was looted from a Jewish collector during WW II and the Holocaust.

The court upheld an earlier ruling that the painting should be returned to the family of the collector, Jewish businessman Simon Bauer, according to the text seen by AFP on Wednesday, July 1.

Purchasers Bruce and Robbi Toll of the Philadelphia area, who are also Jewish, claimed that they didn’t know the painting was stolen when they bought it in New York for $800,000 back in 1995.

Toll is a partner in the luxury home-building company Toll Brothers. He also serves as chairman of Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News newspapers.

The Vichy regime in France during the war collaborated with the Nazis and stole 93 paintings from Bauer, according to the report.

Some of the paintings were returned to him after the war, though he died in 1947, before he was able to retrieve “La Cueillette.”

Pissarro was born on Nov. 13, 1903 on St. Thomas in the Caribbean. His father was of Portuguese Jewish descent and held French nationality; his mother was from a French Jewish family from the island of St. Thomas.

Few of Pissarro’s paintings sold during his lifetime.

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