Looted in WW II by the Nazis – Painting Returned to Heirs of Owners

| April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Looted in WW II by the Nazis – Painting Returned to Heirs of Owners

By Kathleen Haughney, Tallahassee Bureau

3:45 a.m. EDT, April 19, 2012

Breaking news about Nazis who stole art work is finally returned to heirs of owners.

TALLAHASSEE — Nazis. A stolen Italian work of art worth millions. U.S. Special Agents. Interpol. And a worldwide hunt that ended in a small Tallahassee art museum.

That was the set-up for the scene Wednesday when U.S. officials handed over a 474-year-old painting to the family of Frederic Gentili di Giuseppe, a wealthy Paris Jew who died in April 1940, just before France was invaded.

“I’m thrilled that the day has finally come when we can present the heirs of Gentili di Giuseppe with this treasure taken from them some 70 years ago,” said U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh, who asked a federal judge last November to order the return of the painting.

The work in question is a 1538 painting by Girolamo de Romani, also known as Romanino, depicting an image of Jesus Christ in an unusual copper-colored robe, carrying the cross on his right shoulder while being dragged by a soldier. It was held in private collections by European families until 1914, when Gentili purchased it.

When the Nazis marched into France, many of Gentili’s heirs fled — but weren’t able to take the family patriarch’s art collection and many other valuables.

Vichy French authorities auctioned off the property, including more than 70 pieces of art, and barred the family from returning to claim the art work in 1941. The Romanino painting was acquired by the Italian government-run museum Pinacoteca di Brera in 1998.

Gentili’s heirs — scattered to England, France, Denmark and other parts of the world — have been attempting to recover their grandfather’s art collection for decades. In 1999, a French court ordered the Louvre to return five pieces of art work to the family. Since then, the family has retrieved works from museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Art Museum at Princeton University.

Gentili attorney Maitre Corrine Herskovitch said the family has recovered 20 pieces in all, but 55 more — plus a valuable book collection — are still missing. To read more please go to: SunSentinel

A moral obligation to return stolen items for the future generations.

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Category: Art News