PALM BEACH, FL.- The Museo Nacional del Prado
is currently exhibiting two paintings by Joaquin Sorolla belonging to the Fanjul family, without their prior knowledge or consent. These paintings were part of the Fanjul art collection illegally confiscated by the Cuban government in 1961 when Fidel Castro seized power. The Castro regime also turned the Fanjul family home in Havana, which housed the Fanjul art collection, into the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba. We believe many of the paintings that belonged to the Fanjul family have been trafficked by the Cuban government and sold in international art markets. It is the
family's goal to locate all these paintings and maintain the integrity of the collection, one of the finest collections of fine and decorative arts in Havana.
Two Sorolla paintings, Summer (1904) and Clotilde Strolling in the Gardens of La Granja (1907), are on display at the Museo Nacional del Prado from 26 May 2009 to 13 September 2009. These paintings are owned by the Fanjul family and have been registered as stolen property with the international Art Loss Register since 1993.
"Our goal is to preserve the integrity of the Fanjul family collection of paintings and decorative art," said Fanjul family spokesman, J. "Pepe" Fanjul. "Sotheby's and other auction houses are assisting in this goal by issuing guidelines that prevent the illegal dealing in this art. We are confident that a museum of the status of the Prado would share in our goal of preserving this historically important collection."
Counsel to the Fanjul family, Shanker Singham noted that, "aside from the moral implications of dealing in stolen art, there are significant other legal implications. Under the Helms-Burton Act in the United States, for example, mere possession of property confiscated by the Cuban government is considered illegal trafficking and can result in the exclusion of any such trafficker (and their spouses and minor children) from the United States altogether. Thus the Prado's possession of the two Sorolla paintings confiscated from the Fanjul family could lead to the exclusion of the Prado directors, their spouses and minor children from the U.S., one of the largest art markets in the world."
The Fanjul family has sought to secure and protect its art collection since its confiscation in 1961. The family does not object to the exhibition of the collection to the public. The family recognizes the collection's historical and cultural significance to Cuba and their fellow Cubans. However, it is imperative that the paintings be properly attributed, that the true owners' consent is obtained prior to the display or exhibition of any of their paintings, and that the integrity of the Fanjul art collection as a whole is protected. The Fanjul family is working with a number of members of Congress, and the U.S. State Department concerning the illegal trafficking of its collection of paintings.