'Missing' $10M painting has ties to Henry Bloch, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Like the Kauffmans or Buck O'Neil, the Bloch family is a recognizable name to people with ties to Kansas City.

Henry W. Bloch and his brother, Richard Bloch, founded the tax preparation company H&R Block in 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri. H&R Block later grew to become the world's largest tax services company.

Henry Bloch and his wife, Marion, married in 1951 and live in Mission Hills, Kan.

Their generosity created the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The school awards scholarships and faculty chairs in Henry Bloch's name.

Henry and Marion Bloch also helped fund the Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The building opened in 2007 and houses the museum's contemporary and African art as well as photography and special exhibits.

In an effort to expand his personal art collection, in 1993 Henry Bloch purchased a Degas painting of a ballerina in a yellow and red tutu from an art dealer in New York City. The painting is known as "Dancer Making Points," or in French, "Danseuse Faisant des Pointes."

John Phillips is the Bloch family attorney. In a statement, he wrote:

"Mr. and Mrs. Bloch purchased the Degas pastel through Susan L. Brody, a trusted dealer from whom he has acquired other works of great distinction for their collection. The dealer, Susan Brody, provided the provenance for the Degas pastel ."

Edgar Degas painted the ballerina in France in 1879-1880. In 2008 Sotheby's valued the painting at $10 million.

Unbeknownst to Henry Bloch, the painting had vanished in 1992 from the New York City apartment of copper heiress Huguette Clark. For readers who have been following Clark's story via one of our reporting partners,  msnbc.com , Clark's name made headlines recently due to a squabble over whether she was competent when she signed a will that cut her family out of any inheritance to her $400 million estate.

WHO IS HUGUETTE CLARK? | Read more at msnbc.com

After the painting's past was revealed in 2008, Henry Bloch and Ms. Clark disagreed about who owned it. After all, the Blochs purchased it in good faith and was an innocent buyer.

Still, Henry Bloch ended up negotiating a secret settlement with Clark to give the painting to Nelson-Atkins.

Bloch didn't get a dime in return, but Clark received a tax deduction for the gift.  

The painting, however, isn't hanging on a museum wall. Instead, during an exchange at the Bloch's home, a representative for the Bloch family handed the painting to Clark's attorney. He gave it to the then-Director of Nelson-Atkins, who handed it back to the Blochs.

The museum still owns the painting. It was given to the Blochs as loan that is renewed every year.  

In a statement, Henry Bloch wrote:

"The day we reached the agreement with Ms. Clark was a great day for Kansas City."

The museum's current Director Julián Zugazagoitia provided this statement:

"Despite a highly unusual course of events and thanks to Ms. Clark's role as an additional benefactor to the museum, Mr. Bloch has been steadfast in ensuring that the work ends up in the museum's collection for the benefit of the public."

When the Blochs die, the Degas will go to Nelson-Atkins along with 30 or so of their masterpieces, as promised.

For now, however, it remains on their living room wall.

Watch the report tonight on 41 Action News and read more of this report at msnbc.com.

Investigative reporter Bill Dedman of msnbc.com contributed to this report.  

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