The Provincial Court of Huesca has ratified, point by point, the sentence that condemned the Generalitat and the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) on July 4, 2016 to return the Romanesque paintings of the chapter house of the Sijena monastery in Huesca After four years, after the appeal presented by the on September 2, 2016.
The Hearing has rejected all the arguments raised contrary to the decision made by judge Silvia Ferreruela of the Investigating Court number 2 of Huesca, in which sense that these Romanesque frescoes are “in precarious condition” in the museum, since no title of ownership could be presented. And that’s why she orders them to be returned.
The sentence was announced this Monday after the magistrates’ meeting last Tuesday. Now, the Generalitat and the MNAC have 20 days to present new appeals, this time to higher instances: the Supreme Court. If the case is admitted, it can be extended for two or three more years.
“The sentence is not final and the museum will appeal it to the Supreme Court. The arguments that we have made serve in the first instance we consider that they continue to be valid. The paintings will continue in the museum where they are kept in the best conditions and their preservation is guaranteed ”, explained Pepe Serra , director of the MNAC after hearing the ruling.
During the trial of first instance, the Generalitat presented a letter of December 17, 1992 between the Minister of Culture Joan Guitart and the federal mother of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and prioress of the Valldoreix Monastery.
Pilar San Joaquín Gracia in which the Order assigns the custody and use of the mural paintings to the Generalitat of Catalonia indefinitely, undertaking to carry out all the procedures and obtain the necessary authorizations to donate said paintings to the Generalitat. But nothing else, as stated in this last sentence that is dated October 2.
According to the magistrates, “if possession is granted without specifying its use or duration, we are faced with the figure of the precarious, and if, on the contrary, its time or use is determined, the contract concluded has the nature of a loan.” And they continue.
“The difference between one and another legal figure has an unquestionable impact on their practical results, because, in the case of precarious, the owner can claim the thing at his will, while, in the loan, he cannot request its restitution except when the use has concluded or the time for which it was agreed has ended ”.
And it is what has happened. According to the Audiencia de Huesca, the wish of the community of nuns of Sijena, which owns the property, was that the paintings be returned to their original location.