Attorney for woman again disputes evidence in Renoir case

With less than 20 hours to go before a court hearing that could decide the future of a tiny Renoir landscape reported stolen in 1951 from the Baltimore Museum of Art, the lawyers continued to fight tooth and nail to come up with new arguments that will prevail with a federal judge.

Attorney T. Wayne Biggs, who represents Marcia "Martha" Fuqua, a Virginia woman who said she bought the painting for $7 in around 2009 at a flea market, filed a document known as a "sur-reply" late Thursday afternoon.

Biggs previously had asked U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema not to consider the declarations of museum employees Emily Rafferty and Frances Klapthor because, the attorney said, they constituted new evidence. Brinkema denied Biggs' request, but gave him three days to explain his objections in writing.

He asserts in the filing that BMA attorney Marla Diaz has failed to properly authenticate various documents she has submitted as evidence. Biggs also points up what he perceives to be discrepancies in witness statements and argues that some of the documents filed by Diaz contain inferences as to certain events that occurred, instead of firsthand knowledge.

A hearing on the museum's request for a summary judgment — to have the ownership dispute declared in the BMA's favor without going to trial — is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday in Alexandria, Va.

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