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Attorney files a motion to strike in case of Renoir painting reported stolen

The attorney for a Virginia woman is asking a federal court judge to throw out the most recent documents that bolster the Baltimore Museum of Art's claim that it should be awarded an 1879 landscape painted by Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

In a motion to strike filed this week, attorney T. Wayne Biggs asked U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema not to consider declarations made by Emily Rafferty, the museum's head librarian and archivist, and Frances Klapthor, the museum's registrar. The declarations were included as part of a filing by the museum on Dec. 31.

The declarations address the circumstances under which the museum discovered a 1937 loan receipt for the painting "Paysage Bords de Seine" and a catalog card for the same artwork.

Biggs represents Marcia "Martha" Fuqua, who argues that the painting should be hers because she bought it for $7 at a flea market around 2009 without knowing its true value. He argues that the declarations constitute new evidence that should have been included in a motion for a summary judgment filed Dec. 3 by the museum's attorney, Marla Diaz.

Because the declarations weren't filed until Dec. 31, Biggs argues, he couldn't scrutinize them in his official objection to the summary judgment motion, which was due Dec. 20.

Brinkema is scheduled to hear arguments on all the motions on the case in her Alexandria, Va., courtroom Friday.

In 2012, the painting was to have been auctioned off by the Potomack Company, a Northern Virginia auction house, on behalf of Fuqua. The day before the river view was scheduled to go under the gavel, the museum produced a police report indicating that the artwork had been stolen in 1951.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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