Stolen Or Not? RISD Responds To Art Theft Claims

Mar 6, 2018

The Rhode Island School of Design denied claims that a Picasso painting it owns was stolen by Nazis from a Jewish Art Collector. The Cubist painting, Femme assise au livre (Seated Woman with a Book), has been in the RISD Museum's collection since 1951.

The claim to RISD questioned the path of ownership of the painting and argued that it was looted from Alphonse Kann's collection in 1940 during the Nazi occupation of France. The school said there's extensive research that confirms claims that the painting was once owned by Kann, but shows it was legitmately sold to an art gallery.

Picasso's Seated Woman with a Book
Credit RISD

In a press release John W. Smith, RISD Museum Director, said, "The integrity of the RISD Museum and the artwork it houses are the very foundation of the value the Museum provides to out communities. As our history reflects, we are wholly committed to maintaining and continuing to enhance the Museum's robust and long-establishing vetting and provenance research process for all items within our collection."

The school said they have shared their research with Kann descendents, but have received no reply.