U.S. seizes a Picasso painting worth over $11 mn

Washington, Jun 25 (EFE).- The U.S. Department of Justice seized a work by Pablo Picasso valued at $11.5 million in the name of the Italian government, which is calling for it to be handed over in a case of fraud, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, said.

The 1909 painting "Compotier et Tasse" has been retained under the terms of an agreement between the United States and Italy in New York, where it was to be put on sale.

Italian authorities are trying to seize the assets of Gabriella Amati and her husband, Angelo Maj, who are accused of embezzlement and fraudulent bankruptcy proceedings in Naples.

"Restraining this valuable artwork is an effort to help recover some of the estimated $44 million that this couple stole from the tax-paying citizens of Naples," ICE director John Morton said in a statement.

"Restraining this Picasso painting is yet another example of the Justice Department's close partnership with law enforcement around the world," Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said.

The painting comes from the first years of the groundbreaking Malaga painter's cubist period.