The federal government has claimed custody of a $10 million Picasso painting that was stolen by Nazis during World War II and is being fought over by a collector and the family of a previous owner.
The move allows the federal court in Los Angeles to claim jurisdiction over a case pitting the painting's current owner, Chicago art collector Marilynn Alsdorf, against the grandson of a Jewish woman who sent it to a Paris gallery for safekeeping during the war before fleeing Berlin.
The FBI said Tuesday that its agents and U.S. marshals served Alsdorf with an order last week barring her from moving the painting from a safe in her Chicago home until a court decides the proper owner.
The federal complaint alleges that in December 2002, Alsdorf illegally moved the 1922 oil painting, known as "Femme en Blanc" ("Woman in White"), from California to Illinois. Federal authorities said the painting was subject to forfeiture because it is against the law to knowingly transport stolen goods across state lines.
Alsdorf and her late husband bought the painting from a New York gallery in 1975 for $357,000. Its value is now estimated at $10 million.
Thomas Bennigson of Oakland had filed a lawsuit against Alsdorf shortly before she moved the painting.