Prosecutors Raid Geneva Freeport in Search of David Nahmad’s Modigliani Painting

The seizure of the $25 million painting has been neither confirmed or denied.

Amedeo Modigliani Seated Man with a Cane (1918) Photo:

Swiss prosecutors have raided a storage facility in Geneva in search of the Amedeo Modigliani painting Seated Man with a Cane (1918), revealed by the Panama Papers to belong to art supremo David Nahmad.

Prosecutor Claudio Mascotto launched the search for the painting at a unit belonging to art storage company Rodolphe Haller at Ports Francs Geneva, as he believed the $25 million artwork to be inside.

The search was launched two days after Mascotto asked for permission to audit the storage company. He has since not revealed whether or not the painting was recovered, as reported by Le Temps and Art Market Monitor.

The painting was drawn into the center of a restitution claim, as it is alleged that the Nazis took the painting from Oscar Stettiner during the Second World War and his grandson Philippe Maestracci is seeking restitution.

Art dealer David Nahmad. Photo: Valery Hache, AFP Photo/Getty Images.

Art dealer David Nahmad.
Photo: Valery Hache, AFP Photo/Getty Images.

In the course of him trying to reclaim the painting, it emerged that the stated owners were International Art Center (IAC). It later emerged, via the Panama Papers, that that IAC had been controlled by the Nahmad family for the last 20 years and it was indeed a shell company for their London and New York galleries.

IAC bought the painting at Christie’s London in 1996 for $3.2 million, when its provenance was attributed to known French collector Roger Dutilleul. Then, in 2008, the painting was relisted with a provenance of “possibly” to Dutilleul and “possibly” to Stettiner.

Prior to the recent Panama Papers revelations, the Nahmad family has flatly denied owning the painting that may or may not have been seized by the Swiss authorities.

Maestracci’s latest attempts to see the painting returned to its alleged rightful owner saw him being directed by a judge to pursue his claim in Panama.

The Panama Papers have shed light on several art world players who have been benefitting form the use of shell companies created by the firm Mossack Fonseca, with the Nahmad family and collector Dmitry Rybolovlev among the first emerging stories.

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