ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Lawyers for a Virginia woman trying to reclaim a Renoir painting seized by the FBI in an ownership dispute say a Baltimore museum’s claim to the painting can’t be authenticated in court.
A Jan. 10 hearing is set in federal court in Alexandria to determine whether the Baltimore Museum of Art or Martha Fuqua, who says she bought the painting at a flea market in 2009 for $7, is the rightful owner of the napkin-sized painting by the French impressionist.
The museum says the painting was stolen in 1951, and others have stepped forward with information contradicting the Loudoun County woman’s story.
In court papers, Fuqua’s lawyers say the museum’s paperwork proving ownership is inadmissible hearsay. The museum’s lawyers say Fuqua has no legal claim to ownership of stolen property.
If a judge declines to declare a rightful owner at the Jan. 10 hearing, a jury will hear the case at a civil trial scheduled for Jan. 15.
An appraiser commissioned by the FBI says the painting’s value is about $22,000.
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