After almost two decades of legal battle, one of the jewels of Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, claimed by the heirs of the Jewish collector plundered by the Nazis, will remain in Madrid. The painting ‘Rue Saint-Honoré in the afternoon. Rain Effect”, executed by the French impressionist Camille Pisarro in 1897, will remain the property of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation, after a federal appeals court in California on Tuesday dismissed the case: it ruled that the law that should apply is Spain, which had already decided that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection was the rightful owner of the painting.

The court had to apply California state law on choice of jurisdiction in a case in which there was a conflict of interest over which law should apply to the merits of the case, i.e. -say who is the legitimate owner of the work: that of Spain or that of California. In the first case, as happened, the work would remain in the galleries of the Madrid Museum. In the second case, it would impose restitution on the plaintiffs, the heirs of Lilly Cassirer, a Jewish woman who was forced by the Nazis to sell the painting at a lower price to obtain a visa to flee Germany under Adolf Hitler.

The question was decided by an analysis of “comparative harm”, as established by California law when determining which jurisdiction would be worse off if the case were not assigned to it.

“The court concluded that, on the facts of this case, the governmental interests of Spain would be more harmed by the application of the California law than the governmental interests of California would be harmed by the application of the law Spanish. Therefore, Spanish law applies,” the judges wrote in the judgment.

Apply Spanish law“, the court maintains that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection obtained the obligatory title for the painting under article 1955 of the Spanish Civil Code”, maintains the judgment on the work, an important piece of the Madrid museum, valued at almost 40 million euros.

There the decision was unanimous of the three judges -Consuelo Callahan, Carlos Bea and Sandra Ikuta- but with an added note from Callahan: he agrees with the decision, but considers that “Spain should have returned the painting voluntarily”.

Cassirer’s heirs could still appeal to the highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court, although The High Court has already remanded the case it is up to the court of appeal to decide which jurisdiction applies to the ownership of the painting.

After the publication of the judgment, Emilio Acevedogeneral director of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, expressed to ABC his “enormous satisfaction” with a judicial decision which “unanimously ratifies previous declarations”.