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February 15, 2013 11:43 am

France Orders Return of 7 Art Pieces Looted by Nazis

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eneral Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, accompanied by Gen. Omar N. Bradley, and Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., inspect art treasures stolen by Germans and hidden in salt mine in Germany. Photo: Wikipedia

France has ordered seven paintings looted by the Nazis returned to the heirs of two Jewish families, the French Ministry of culture told the AFP Thursday.

Six paintings  will be returned to Thomas Selldorff, the octogenarian grandson of Austrian textile magnate Richard Neumann, who was forced to flee from the Nazis in 1938.

The Italian and German works, three of which are in the Louvre, include “The Allegory of Venice” by Gaspare Diziani (1689-1767), “Saint Francis” by Salvator Francesco Fontebasso (1709-1769) and Venetian painter Alessandro Longhi’s “Portrait of Bartolomeo Ferracina.”

The other works are by Italian masters Sebastiano Ricci and Gaetano Gandolfi, and the German painter Francois-Charles Palko.

The seventh work, The Halt, by Pieter Jansz van Asch is to go to the descendants of Joesf Wiener, a Czech banker whose collection was taken by the Gestapo before he was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he was killed in 1942.

Last year, a 500-year-old painting auctioned by the French government during the Nazi occupation in World War II was returned to a Jewish family who proved it was sold illegally.

Bruno Saunier, deputy director of collections at the French Service of Museums, said the decision to return the artworks was “quite exceptional.”

“We only restitute one work a year on average,” he told The UK’s Times.

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