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$4M Painting Returned to Owner after 42 Years

$4M Painting Returned to Owner after 42 Years

On October 16, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced that the Roy Lichtenstein painting called “Electric Cord” was returned to its rightful owner, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, after missing for 42 years.  Barbara is the widow of the American art dealer Leo Castelli.  

Castelli obtained the painting in the 1960s with plans to display it at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City.  He sent the painting to Daniel Goldreyer, an art restorer, in 1970, but after Goldreyer received the painting it disappeared.  

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation published a photo of the painting in December of 2006 on its holiday greeting card and asked members of the art community to help locate the painting.  The painting was discovered at the Hayes Storage Facility in New York in July of 2012.  

Daniel Goldreyer died in 2009, and his wife, Sally Goldreyer, began to clean out the lockers of the company’s employees.  The locker of an employee named Ben Dolinsky was cleaned out and the contents—which included the painting—were given to a friend.

After three years, the same friend asked Sally Goldreyer to sell the painting for him.  She almost sold the painting to the Quinta Galeria art gallery, but she refunded the gallery’s deposit after she found a missing notice on the internet.  

Sally Goldreyer gave up her rights to the painting on October 9, 2012, and the painting was returned to Barbara Castelli.  

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “More than four decades after it appeared, we are delighted to have played a role in securing the return of this painting by the internationally renowned artist, Roy Lichtenstein, to its rightful owner.  Returning stolen art and artifacts is an important mission of this office, and it is always gratifying when we are successful.”

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Sussex County Blocked Affordable Housing

Sussex County Blocked Affordable Housing

On November 28, 2012, the Department of Justice announced it reached a settlement with Sussex County, DE and the Planning and Zoning Commission of Sussex County.  The lawsuit was filed after the Justice Department claimed the county and zoning commission discriminated based on race and national origin and violated the Fair Housing Act.  

The lawsuit stated that the zoning commission denied approval for a 50-lot affordable housing area that was proposed by the Diamond State Community Land Trust.  The Land trust is an affordable housing developer in southwestern Sussex County near Laurel, Delaware.  The Sussex County Council also allowed for the denial of the proposed project.  

The Justice Department stated the project was denied because the subdivision’s residents would mostly be Latino and African-American.  The original complaint was filed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and was then referred to the Justice Department.  

The settlement was filed on the same day of the lawsuit but still needs approved by the court.  The settlement calls for the county and zoning commission to reconsider affordable housing proposals without discriminatory criteria and to stop obstructing the development of the Diamond State Community Land Trust’s subdivision.  The county is required to pay the Diamond State Community Land Trust $750,000 for damages.  

The county has also entered into an agreement with HUD.  The agreement, called the Voluntary Compliance Agreement, requires Sussex County to form a priority fair housing plan, form strategies to place affordable housing in all of the county communities, and address infrastructure and development in minority communities.  

John Trasviña, the HUD Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, stated: “Today’s groundbreaking settlement recognizes the importance of the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing in the activities of local governments.  Actions that establish or continue barriers to full fair housing choices deny Americans equal access to housing.  HUD and DOJ will continue to work together to make sure communities are open to everyone and that past patterns of discrimination are addressed.”  

Source: Department of Justice