- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

FORT WORTH, Texas — A 19th-century painting, worth millions of dollars and confiscated from a Jewish art collector when the Nazis overran France during World War II, is on its way back to its rightful owners after a lengthy investigation by the Kimbell Art Museum.

Senior curator Malcolm Warner said “questions” about Joseph Mallord William Turner’s 1841 painting “Glaucus and Scylla” emerged in 2002, about the time he joined the Fort Worth museum.

The painting had been on display at Kimbell since the museum bought it in 1966 from Newhouse Galleries in New York at an undisclosed price.

Mr. Warner said Kimbell officials had been contacted by Ian Locke, an art dealer/investigator in London, and told that the painting might have been unlawfully seized during World War II.

Kimbell officials hired New York art investigator Evie Joselow to research the trail of the Turner painting.

The ownership record of the painting was incomplete when the Kimbell acquired it. Previous owners were listed by name until World War II, when the record indicated it was owned by “a French collector until after 1950.”

Mrs. Joselow “came up with the catalog of the auction sale in 1943,” Mr. Warner said, “but she didn’t find any way of proving whether at the time it was being illegally sold.”

Kimbell officials, he said, didn’t know what to do, nor how to approach the problem.

“It seemed like a possibility the Nazis had stolen it, but our knowledge was still too patchy, and we didn’t feel we could do anything without further knowledge.”

Mr. Warner said it was obvious they needed to find some of the descendants of John Jaffe — one of the original owners.

Enter Alain Monteagle.

Mr. Monteagle, a 58-year-old professor who lives in a Paris suburb, is a great-great-nephew of Anna Jaffe, wife of John Jaffe.

Mr. Monteagle told Kimbell officials that the Turner and other legendary artworks that had been stolen from his great-great-aunt. Over the years, he had tried to track some of the art, including “Glaucus and Scylla.”

He provided old wills, clippings, family trees and other memorabilia about the Turner piece and the family. One of the most impressive determinates, Mr. Warner said, was that Mr. Monteagle recently had successfully negotiated the return of another valuable painting, by the Italian master Guardi, to the family.

“That was impressive,” Mr. Warner said. “He had convinced them that he and his family were the rightful owners of that other painting. That carried a lot of weight with us.”

A few weeks ago, the Kimbell realized Mr. Monteagle’s materials had passed the test.

“Finally we felt we had the critical mass of knowledge to decide what had really happened and that the right thing to do was to return the painting,” Mr. Warner said.

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