Deweerth v. Baldinger

38 F.3d 1266 (2nd Cir. 1994), cert. den., 513 U.S. 1001 (1994)


DeWeerth (P) is a citizen of West Germany. Her father owned a substantial art collection and purchased the Monet in question in 1908. P inherited the painting in 1922, and the painting was kept in her home from 1922 to 1943 until it was sent to her sister in Oberbalzheim for safekeeping during the war. In 1945, American soldiers stole the painting and P was notified of the theft. In 1946, P filed a complaint with the military government. In 1955, P sent a picture of the painting to Dr. Alfred Stange and asked him to investigate its whereabouts. P also sent a list of her stolen art to the Bundeskriminalamt, the German FBI. The painting reappeared in 1956 in New York and was sold to Edith Marks Baldinger (D) for $30,900. D purchased in good faith. P learned of D's possession in 1981 through the efforts of her nephew. P demanded return of the painting and D refused. P sued D in the 1980’s. The District Court determined that P was the owner and ordered D to return it. D appealed claiming that P's demand was unreasonably delayed. The first decision was overruled in that the state statute of limitations had not been tolled due to a lack of reasonable diligence. The Guggenheim decision overturned the requirement of a showing of reasonable diligence. On May 2, 1991, P brought a motion before the appeals court to recall the prior mandate and vacate the judgment in light of Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation v. Lubell, a decision by the New York Court of Appeals that held that the New York statute of limitations applicable to this action did not require a showing of reasonable diligence in locating stolen property. The court denied the motion without opinion on May 17, 1991. P then applied in the district court under Rule 60 for relief from the judgment. The district court granted the motion and D appealed.