France returns three paintings stolen by Nazis during World War II

By Kyle Johnson,

France announced that the country has returned three oil paintings that were originally stolen during World War II by Nazis to their rightful owners.

The three paintings were presented to the rightful owners' grandchildren and great-grandchildren by Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti, reports The New York Times.

At the ceremony in Paris, Filippetti said that returning the art "demonstrates the determination of the state and France to continue the restitution of artworks."

The three paintings returned on Tuesday were Lippo Memmi's "Madonna and Child," Joos de Momper's "Mountain Landscape" and "Portrait of a Woman," which was done by an unknown painter, according to The Associated Press.

Memmi's painting originally was owned by Richard Soepkez and his grandson Nicholas Florescu attended the ceremony. "It's unbelievable what's happened," he said.

The Momper painting was stolen from Belgian banker Baron Cassel van Doorn, and eventually found in an Austrian salt mine. The final work, "Portrait of a Woman," was previously owned by Jewish art dealers Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer.

Between 1940 and 1944, nearly 100,000 pieces of art were looted by the Nazis from Jewish owners. Of 2,000 recovered works that have been kept at French museums, only 102 have been returned to the rightful owners.

photo: Lippo Memmi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



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