Feds search RI home connected to Nazi-era art case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – Federal agents are investigating whether a Rhode Island woman broke the law by importing a painting taken from a Jewish art dealer and auctioned by the Nazis.

Maria-Luise Bissonnette said Thursday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents searched her Providence apartment last week. She said the agents were investigating whether she illegally brought a painting into the country, an allegation she denies.

An ICE spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling last year forcing Bissonnette to surrender a painting to the estate of late Jewish art dealer Max Stern. In 1937, Germany’s Nazi government forcibly auctioned off Stern’s paintings, including one purchased by Bissonnette’s stepfather. His stepdaughter inherited it.

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AP-ES-11-05-09 1110EST