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Belgium to return Nazi-looted painting to German Jewish family

Grandchildren of Gustav and Emma Mayer to receive ‘Blumenstilleben’; since family was compensated in 1960s, they’ll be asked to pay for painting

Illustrative: A woman wears a face mask, to prevent against the spread of coronavirus, at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)
Illustrative: A woman wears a face mask, to prevent against the spread of coronavirus, at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

BRUSSELS — Belgium will return a painting to the family of a German Jewish couple from whom it was stolen after they fled Germany during World War II, the government research department said Wednesday.

“Blumenstilleben,” or “Still life with Flowers,” was painted in 1913 by Lovis Corinth and has been kept in the collection of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels, alongside around 30 other works thought to have been stolen during World War II.

After decades of analysis and research, experts have concluded that the painting was looted from a warehouse by officials of the German occupation, from goods owned by German Jewish refugees.

Gustav and Emma Mayer were forced to part with some of their belongings as they made their way to England, and a crate containing the painting was stolen from storage at the beginning of the war.

In a letter sent on May 26 to the German lawyers of the couple’s grandchildren, Belgian secretary of state Thomas Dermine officially confirmed the Belgian state’s agreement to hand back the piece.

The Mayer family was already compensated for the loss of its property by German authorities in the 1960s, and so the relatives will be asked to pay 4,100 euros, the estimated cost of the painting.

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