French board favors returning seven Nazi-looted paintings to Jewish owners

JTA 14 February 2013

A French restitution committee has recommended returning seven valuable paintings looted by the Nazis during the Holocaust from two Jewish families.

The paintings are currently part of various collections in France, including the Louvre in Paris and the museums of Tours, Saint-Étienne and Agen. The CIVS Holocaust restitution committee determined in December that they belong to the Wiener and Neumann families and should be returned to them, according to a report in Le Monde. CIVS is an acronym for the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation Resulting from the Anti-Semitic Legislation in Force during the Occupation, which was set up in 1999 as an advisory governmental board.

The decision by the CIVS committee was kept under wraps until now because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, Le Monde reported, adding that the restitution would be the largest of its kind since 2000. 

The paintings are the works of Alessandro Longui, Sebastiano Ricci, Gaspare Diziani, Salavtor Francesco Fontebasso, Gaetano Gandolfi, François-Charles Palko, and Pieter Jansz van Asch.

Six of the works belonged to Richard Neumann, an Austrian industrialist who escaped the extermination of Jews by fleeing to Cuba with his wife and daughter. The seventh painting is the property of the descendants of Josef Weiner, a banker from Prague who was murdered by the Nazis in 1942.

Tom Selldorf, a grandson of Neumann living in the United States, told Le Monde that the family “does not wish to make momey from the paintings but to pass on to our sons and grandsons the love my grandfather had for the arts.”
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