New Yorker returns Nazi-looted art hanging in his room

AP 7 May 2009

A circa 1595 painting by Ludovico Carracci called
"St Jerome" is being returned to the estate Dr. Max
Stern more than seven decades after it was plundered by the Nazis.

NEW YORK -- A late 16th century Italian Baroque painting that was looted by the Nazis from a German-Jewish art dealer and had been hanging in a man's living room has been recovered, a Canadian university announced Wednesday.

The circa 1595 painting of St. Jerome by Ludovico Carracci was one of hundreds of paintings owned by Dr. Max Stern. The art dealer was forced to sell his art at auction in Cologne, Germany, in 1937.

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement turned over the work Wednesday morning to Stern's estate, which was left to Concordia University in Montreal and two other universities. An ICE spokesman said the painting was taken back to Montreal.

It's the second painting once owned by Stern to be recovered in less than two weeks.

The painting had been hanging in the living room of Manhattan art dealer Richard L. Feigen. He said he returned the work of art after reading about the recovery of the first painting -- a 1632 Dutch Old Master called "Portrait of a Musician Playing a Bagpipe" -- in a newspaper.

The article said the painting had been sold at the Lempertz Auction House in Cologne -- the same place Feigen bought his painting in 2000 for about $54,000.

Feigen said he called an assistant, who immediately checked with the Max Stern Art Restitution Project and discovered the painting was on a list of missing works.

"I felt the only thing to do was return it," Feigen said in an interview. "It was a stolen painting and it had to be given back."

Stern escaped to England in 1937. He later moved to Canada and became an art dealer again.

He died in 1987.
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