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Lawsuit against ND claims Snite display contains stolen art

| Monday, June 20, 2016

A Pittsburgh man filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame, claiming the University’s Snite Museum of Art owns $575,000 worth of his father’s early-American art collection, which was stolen more than two decades ago, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Scott Leff said he learned in 2015 that the University had purchased his father’s collection of several hundred figurines from a dealer in New Mexico in 2005, who allegedly bought it from his father’s ex-wife, according to the Post-Gazette.

According to the article, the suit claims the ex-wife of Jay Leff — Scott’s father — pilfered part of his collection in 1996, when the couple divorced. Jay Leff died in 2000 at age 75.

Leff and his wife filed suit in a Pittsburgh court last month, and the case was transferred to federal court this week, according to the article. He is seeking the return of the art.

University spokesperson Dennis Brown told the Post-Gazette that Notre Dame acquired the figurines in good faith and is “confident in its ownership of full rightful title” to them.

In a written statement, Notre Dame lawyers said Leff has no proof of ownership and made no effort to recover the art for the past 20 years, according to the Post-Gazette.

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