But in 2000, the Italian government contacted the museum with records showing the painting had been stolen from the Italian embassy in Warsaw during World War II. The Springfield museum turned the painting over to the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence in 2001.
In a suit filed earlier this month, the museum charges Knoedler with fraud and deceit, The Republican of Springfield reported. The suit claims Knoedler said falsely that it had examined the painting's origins and had a clear title to it.
Museum attorney Mark D. Mason said the museum expects to recover the painting's current appraised value of $3 million.
Knoedler's lawyer, Andrius Kontrimas of Houston, could not be reached for comment Saturday. Gallery officials did not respond to requests for comment by the Republican on Friday. The gallery was closed Saturday.