The US government announced an effort on Friday to facilitate the return of a painting stolen by the Nazis during World War II to the heirs of a renowned Jewish art collector.
The 1639 painting, “A Scholar Sharpening His Quill,” by Salomon Koninck was stolen by the Nazis in France and taken to Adolf Hitler’s personal headquarters in Munich, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said.
The heirs of Jewish art collector Adolphe Schloss have spent decades trying to reclaim works of art stolen from the family, including the Old Master painting.
The painting disappeared in the aftermath of World War II, but resurfaced in November 2017 when a Chilean art dealer tried to sell it through an auction house in New York.
The unnamed dealer told the auction house, Christie’s, that her father had acquired the painting in Munich in 1952 from Walter Andreas Hofer, who had served as the chief purchasing agent for Hermann Goring and as such was a key player in the confiscation and looting of Jewish art collections during the Nazi era.
The FBI seized the painting, but a court order is required to return it to the Schloss family.
“We can never reverse history and undo the horrors committed at the hands of the Nazis,” Berman said, according to Bloomberg. “But we are steadfast in our determination to remember those who suffered and do what we can to return what was taken.”
“Now that the painting and our research outlining evidence of its past looting are in the hands of the federal US authorities, Christie’s is pleased to know the process of returning the work to the claimant can now begin,” the firm said in a statement to Bloomberg.