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Following a four-year investigation, Dutch museums said that they have found 139 works of art that may have been stolen by the Nazis. The works includes pieces by masters like Matisse, Kandinsky and many others.
According to the BBC, the investigation had looked at all art that over 400 institutions had acquired between 1933 and now. The Dutch Restitutions Committee set up a website to help match all 139 pieces to the heirs of the original owners. A previous investigation focused on art acquired during World War II
“These objects are either thought or known to have been looted, confiscated or sold under duress,” Siebe Weide, director of the Netherlands Museums Association, said in a statement, reports the Associated Press. Returning the pieces is “both a moral obligation and one that we have taken upon ourselves,” he stated.
The museums were able to positively identify 20 people who had 61 pieces of art stolen and they are already getting in touch with the heirs. One of the people is Jewish art dealer Albert Stern, whose Matisse was stolen.
In 1998, there was a major conference in Washington, D.C., where museums discovered that their attempts to get looted work back to the rightful owners was flawed. Since then, British and American museums have undertaken investigations similar to the Dutch one. Germany and other countries are currently performing similar investigations.