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Oil Report

Dutch museum could lose masterpiece to JPMorgan

AMSTERDAM, April 17 (Reuters) - The Netherlands’ largest museum risks losing a 17th-century Dutch masterpiece to an American bank which says it is its rightful owner.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam bought Gerrit Adriaensz Berckheyde’s “Golden Bend” from Dutch businessman Louis Reijtenbagh last year.

Reijtenbagh has financial troubles and JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N, seeking repayment of a loan, has lodged a claim in a New York court to try to obtain the painting.

It says the 62-year-old businessman should not have sold it to the museum because he was using it as collateral for a loan.

“The bank took possession of Reijtenbagh’s art collection earlier this month. This painting was also on the list,” Taco Dibbits, director of collections at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, said on Friday.

Dibbits declined to say how much the Dutch state had paid for the painting.

JPMorgan Chase is seeking the repayment of loans that were backed by millions of dollars worth of artwork held by Monte-Carlo Art SA, a British Virgin Islands-based entity which JPMorgan says is controlled by Reijtenbagh.

It said works by Picasso, Monet and Rembrandt had also been used as collateral and moved illegally out of the United States.

Reijtenbagh, a former doctor, made a fortune through investing and has been described as one of the wealthiest people in the Netherlands. He has declined comment.

The Golden Bend, a light-coloured depiction of an Amsterdam canal and its prized canal houses, is now on display at the National Gallery Museum in Washington. It was insured for 4 million euros ($5.2 million) before it came to the Rijksmuseum.

In March, Reijtenbagh and his two sons were also sued by Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX, which secured a temporary court order freezing his assets.

Several investment funds run by the Swiss bank accuse them of misusing more than $340 million in loans that were to have been used to finance the family’s private equity investments.

Editing by Timothy Heritage

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