Speilberg Art In Court

Oscar-winning film-maker Steven Spielberg is facing a courtroom battle over a valuable painting he bought in good faith 18 years ago, only to learn earlier this year that it was on the FBI's list of the most-wanted stolen artworks. The director of some of cinema's biggest box-office successes including 'Jaws', 'ET' and 'Jurassic Park', avidly collects the 20th-century American artist Norman Rockwell, whose 'Russian Schoolroom' was one of his prized works - until he discovered that it was stolen 34 years ago. The oil painting measuring 16 by 37 inches (6.3cm by 14.6cm), was taken from Arts International, a gallery in Missouri, part of a chain of US galleries that belonged to Jack Solomon. It disappeared without trace until 1988, when it surfaced at a New Orleans auction, changing hands for $70,000. Mr Spielberg bought it in 1989 a year later from Judy Goffman Cutler, a Rhode Island art dealer, for a reported $200,000. Today, its value has soared to about $700,000 and is the subject of two lawsuits. In the first, filed in the Nevada federal court, Mr Solomon - whose gallery chain went bankrupt in 1996 - is suing both Mr Spielberg and the FBI, claiming that the work belongs to him. He alleges that the FBI allowed Mr Spielberg to keep the art despite knowing of the theft. In the second case, Ms Goffman Cutler has filed suit in New York against Mr Solomon and the Art Loss Register (ALR), the British agency with an international database of 200,000 stolen art works, which Mr Solomon asked to assist in recovering the painting. She asserts that Mr Spielberg severed his business relationship with her shortly after Mr Solomon made his accusations and is demanding $25m for losing Mr Spielberg "as a client" and damage to her reputation. (Copyright Times, London.) (For full source and article click the Headline). Irish Art