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US court turns down Poland’s request to extradite Russian arts dealer

August 04, 2015, 8:29 UTC+3 NEW YORK
Warsaw accuses the 64-year-old arts dealer of illegal possession of ‘A Girl With A Dove’ canvas by the 18th century French-born Prussian court painter Antoine Pesne
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© AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

NEW YORK, August 4. /TASS/. A court in New York City has turned down Poland’s request to extradite the Russian arts dealer, Alexander Khochinsky. The Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Jed Rakoff, ruled that there were no sufficient grounds for extraditing Khochinsky to Poland.

Warsaw accuses the 64-year-old arts dealer of illegal possession of ‘A Girl With A Dove’ canvas by the 18th century French-born Prussian court painter Antoine Pesne, which was kept at a museum in the city of Poznan before World War II.

The painting was looted by the Nazis in 1943 and the Soviet Army found it two years later, after which it was submitted to a storage facility on the former Soviet territory.

Khochinsky inherited the canvas from his father. When he learned back in 2010 that Poland had catalogued it as a looted work of art, the Poles offered to purchase it from him.

He was arrested on February 26 in New York upon a request from the Polish authorities but was released on bail of $100,000.

Poland is seeking his extradition on the basis of claims that he refuses to return the painting but Khochinsky’s lawyers said earlier he cannot meet the demands from Warsaw without getting permission from the Russian Ministry of Culture.

In addition, Khochinsky believes the Polish authorities should offer a fair compensation to him, since he possesses the painting legitimately.

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