Russian aristocrat's heir reclaims Van Gogh painting 'looted' by Lenin

The heir to a Tsarist-era aristocrat has launched a legal fight to reclaim a Van Gogh masterpiece that could decide the future of artwork seized by the Bolsheviks after the 1917 revolution.

Pierre Konowaloff, a naturalised Frenchman, claims that Van Gogh's Night Cafe, which has hung on the walls of Yale University for nearly 50 years, was confiscated from his great-grandfather Ivan Morozov on the orders of Lenin.

A court ruling in his favour would trigger a flood of similar claims from Russian émigrés whose family art collections were plundered by the Bolshevik government.

It could also force western countries to widen the Washington Declaration of 1988 which required its 44 signatories to search for art plundered by the Nazis and return it to the heirs of the original owners.

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