On behalf of the Swedish state, museum officials have asked a court to order the woman to give up the painting. They state that their claim of ownership overrides the would-be-seller’s.
It is customary for auctioneers to run artwork through security checks. Recently, a painting by French artist Henri Matisse was returned to Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art after it re-emerged in London. That artwork had also been stolen.
In this case, the National Museum acquired the painting by Larsson, who is one of Sweden’s most famous painters, in 1915.
It was leant out to and stolen from the foreign policy research centre Utrikespolitiska institutet (UI) in 1979.
The documents filed to the court include the original police report and an incident report from UI.
“We are extremely saddened this took place and have already improved our security measures,” it reads.
More than three decades later, the artwork, entitled Studiefigur i Rokoko, re-emerged in Stockholm as it was submitted to auctioneers Bukowskis.
The woman who has now put the painting up for sale has said she inherited it from her father, who in turn bought it from an art dealer in Stockholm in the 1980s.