On July 1, 2020, the Court of Cassation rendered a historic decision for the reparation of Jewish spoliations in France, confirming the restitution of Picking peas, gouache on paper by Pissarro (1887), to the family of Simon Bauer, represented by lawyer Cédric Fischer, also mayor of Saint-Ceols. “In 1943, Simon Bauer had 93 works confiscated. In the aftermath of the war, he attempted to recover his property. After his death in 1947, his heirs took up the torch,” says Cédric Fischer.
An indisputable legal basis for actions aimed at restoring to their legitimate owners works looted and illegally held by amateurs who are trying to rely on their good faith.
Lent by a couple of American collectors, the work was presented in 2017 at the Marmottan Museum. Seized by the Bauer family, the courts ordered the owners to return the work. Three years of proceedings were necessary to reach the decision of the Court of Cassation. The high magistrates having recalled that under the terms of the ordinance of 1945, the subsequent purchasers of a property recognized as confiscated, even in good faith, cannot claim to have become legal owners of it. This decision “gives an indisputable legal basis to actions aimed at the restitution to their legitimate owners of works looted and illegally held by amateurs who are trying to take advantage of their good faith”, estimated Cédric Fischer.
Emmanuelle Polack, involved in the search for works of art looted from Jewish families during the Occupation: “restitution is reparation”
The lawyer, who had recalled that the demand for restitution “is not a question of money”, represents the Bauer family in another trial relating, again, to the request for the return of a work by Pissarro. Judgment will be rendered on October 28.