In an out-of-court settlement announced yesterday, Northern California resident Thomas Bennigson will receive $6.5 million from Marilynn Alsdorf of Chicago for a Pablo Picasso painting reportedly stolen by the Nazis from Bennigson's grandmother.
Additionally, as part of a previous agreement contingent on the settlement, Bennigson will receive a lesser sum from Stephen Hahn -- the art dealer who sold the painting to Alsdorf and her husband, James, in 1975. That sum is to be equal to the profit Hahn realized on the sale.
The settlement ends a protracted legal battle over Picasso's 1922 oil "Femme en Blanc" ("Woman in White"). The dispute began in 2002, when Bennigson sued to have the painting returned to him.
"I think it's a very good result, an extremely good result," Bennigson's attorney, E. Randol Schoenberg, said yesterday. He said estimates of the value of the painting range from $6 million to $10 million and added that Alsdorf "is essentially buying it for a second time from Tom Bennigson."
A spokesman for the Chicago law firm FagelHaber, which represented Alsdorf, said the firm had no comment beyond a statement saying that although Alsdorf maintained the Picasso was purchased in good faith and with proper legal title, she agreed to the settlement because of her advanced age and a desire to put her financial affairs in order.