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January 23, 2022

France returns three paintings stolen by Nazis

France on Tuesday returned three paintings stolen by the Nazis during World War II to their rightful owners, according to USA Today. In an official ceremony, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti returned the works to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original owners who are now dead – calling it a “gesture toward justice.” They include “Madonna and Child,” by 14th century master Lippo Memmi and “Portrait of a Woman,” an 18th century canvas by an unknown artist. The Memmi masterpiece, painted on wood, was looted in 1944 from a Jewish Romanian banker, Richard Soepkez, who lived in the French Riviera city of Cannes. It was returned to his grandson Nicholas Florescu (62), of Romanian origin, who travelled to France for the ceremony from his hometown of Houston. The third painting, “Mountain Landscape” by Flemish artist Joos de Momper (1564-1635), was destined for display in the art gallery Adolf Hitler wanted to build in his hometown of Linz, Austria. Many of the 100,000 possessions looted, stolen or appropriated between 1940 and 1944 in France have been returned to Jewish families, but France says some 2,000 artworks still lie in state institutions.

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