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Spain’s Solicitor General Takes Legal Action Against Franco Family In Bid To Take Ownership Of Assets In Summer Home – Olive Press News Spain




SPAIN’S solicitor general’s office is taking legal action against the family of Francisco Franco in a bid to take ownership of 564 items that are currently inside the dictator’s former summer home, the Pazo de Meirás in Galicia. 

The manor house itself, which is located in A Coruña province, was the subject of  a long legal battle, which eventually saw a judge rule in September 2020 that the Franco family had to return it to the state. The ruling found that the property had been given to the general in his role as head of state after the Spanish Civil War (1936-39, and not in a personal capacity. 

The legal challenge began when it emerged in 2018 that the dictator’s grandchildren were trying to sell the palace for around €8 million, something that caused a public outcry at the time. 

After the ruling, the public were able to enter the Pazo for the first time in June 2021, for guided tours. But the Franco family continued to fight in the courts, and have appealed the ruling that saw them lose ownership of the property at the Supreme Court and also have been laying claim to its contents. 

In July, a court in A Coruña granted the state custody of the items contained inside the house. Some of these were acquired at the time it was occupied by Franco, while others were accumulated between then and his death in 1975. 

This latest lawsuit seeks to recover 564 items for the state, and has been filed by the solicitor general’s office in Madrid, which is where Franco’s relatives reside. The list includes items considered to be “national treasures.” 

The Franco family also mounted legal battles in the courts against the exhumation of the former dictator, which was approved by the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament. But in the end they were unsuccessful and his remains were transferred to a cemetery in Madrid on October 24, 2019. 



Spain’s Prado Museum Pledges To Return Artworks That Were Stolen During The Civil War And Franco Dictatorship – Olive Press News Spain




Madrid’s Prado Museum, which is home to works by Goya, El Greco and Velázquez, has announced that it wants to return the artworks it holds that were seized during the Spanish Civil War to their rightful owners. By the end of this year or the beginning of the next, the gallery hopes to have an exhaustive list of all of the pieces that were taken illegally during the era of former dictator Francisco Franco. 

According to online Spanish daily infoLibre, the Prado Museum’s director, Miguel Falomir, made the commitment on Wednesday to “not have anything that is not here on a legal basis”. He was speaking to reporters after the presentation of a restored painting by artist Guido Reni. 

Earlier this month, the Prado produced a list of 25 works that were likely seized by Francoist forces during the Civil War of 1936 to 1939. However, this list will have grown in the wake of further investigation carried out by an expert in the field, emeritus professor Arturo Colorado Castellary. 

Museo del prado during Guerra Civil. Image Hauser y Menet

“Our obligation is to document everything and we don’t want to have anything that is not here legally,” Falomir told infoLibre. “This is the moment to give the investigation a push,” he continued. 

In the years preceding the Spanish Civil War, the authorities catalogued artworks that were held by private citizens. Then, during the conflict and subsequent dictatorship, these possessions were regularly seized by Francoist forces and given to members of the aristocracy. 

This was the case of the family of Carlos Colón Sicardo, who recently spoke to The Olive Press about his battle to recover works taken from his grandparents around the time of the Civil War. Colón has located several of the 200 artworks that were plundered by the Francoist forces, which included paintings by Goya, Tiépolo, Carreño de Miranda and Anton van Dyck. 

Some of the paintings have been located in public buildings such as the Treasury, which is part of the Economy Ministry, while others are in museums in places as far flung as Asturias. He now faces a legal battle to get them returned. 

There has been recent good news, however, for descendants of those who lost their works during the Franco era: the Industry Ministry recently decided to return art it held that had been stolen from Basque politician Ramón de la Sota. Now, too, the Prado is following suit.


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Grandson Of Republican Colonel Embarks On Quest To Recover Paintings Stolen By Franco Regime – Olive Press News Spain




IN the wake of the Spanish Civil War, Republican Colonel José Sicardo Jiménez- Córdova and his wife Mariana Carderera had little choice but to flee their home country and go into exile, given the likelihood they would be shot for being “reds”. In Madrid they left behind them a six-story building in Moreto street, which was filled with not just hundreds of artworks but also a 12,000-volume library. Barely days after they fled, Francoist forces stole everything they could get their hands on. 

More than 80 years later, the grandson of the couple, Carlos Colón Sicardo, is still fighting to get his family’s property back. To add insult to injury, many of the works have been located in the building that houses the Public Treasury, which is part of the Economy Ministry, as well as the Asturias Fine Arts Museum and the Museum of Romanticism in Madrid. 

“In 1928 there was a law in Spain, and everyone who had a private art collection was forced to allow the government to take pictures of paintings and where they were located,” Carlos explains to The Olive Press. “I have those pictures of the collection that were taken in 1928.”

One of the artworks stolen by the Franco regime.
One of the family’s artworks, as seen in a picture taken in 1928 by the Spanish authorities.

His grandparents’ possessions included works by Goya, Anton van Dyck and even Velázquez, and the paintings were inscribed with the words “Sicardo Collection” on their reverse. The Spanish daily El Diario recently published a story on the affair, bringing to light the challenge that lays ahead of Carlos. 

The official documents related to the seizure still exist, and read: “In this house, which is currently inhabited by refugees, a number of paintings, ceramic pieces and furniture of considerable value have been found.”

“When my grandparents returned to Spain in the 1960s, the building in Madrid was returned along with another property in Ávila, but my grandmother was told that all of the contents had been lost,” Carlos explains. “In the 1960s they were afraid to speak out,” he says, in reference to the Franco-era repression of the time.  

The words “Sicardo Collection” on the reverse of another of the recently located artworks.

According to Carlos’s account, “marquises and counts” considered the property seized from the losing side of the Civil War to be theirs. “People went to these art deposits and picked out whatever they liked,” he explains. “They made a fortune by taking what they wanted.”

Thanks to a friend of Carlos’s who works in Spain’s historical heritage department, he has now been able to track around 76 of the works down. But he has little clue of what to do next. 

Carlos's grandparents with another relative.
A picture of Carlos’s grandparents and another relative.

“I’m trying to find a good law firm that I can rely on to take up this adventure to recover any of the seized paintings,” explains Carlos in near-perfect English, thanks to his job as a professor at North American universities in Madrid. “If we can get back a percentage of that collection, and this is wishful thinking, we would keep one as a token and we would put the rest up for sale,” he says. 

Carlos has no doubt that the pieces that ended up in private homes have been lost forever. “We are not going to battle with powerful people,” he says with resignation. “But those that are in the hands of the state, I will fight for those if I have a chance.”

He may still be successful: the Spanish Industry Ministry recently decided to return works that it held that had been stolen from the Basque Nationalist politician Ramón de la Sota. 

What’s more, Madrid’s Prado Museum has recently confirmed to El Diario that it has checked its inventory and has 64 works that were seized from their rightful owners by the Franco regime. But the Culture Ministry is still yet to set into action any procedures to locate and return the hundreds of stolen works that are still held by the country’s state museums. 

“I’d like to get back at least one painting for the sake of justice,” Carlos concludes.


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