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Germany returns Nazi-looted painting to French Jewish collector's heirs

AFP  |  Berlin 

on Tuesday returned a painting looted by the Nazis to the heirs of French Jewish and resistance leader

The portrait of a seated woman by 19th century French had been on display in a spectacular collection hoarded by Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a

German presented the work to family members of Mandel, executed by French fascists near in 1944, in a ceremony at the in

Experts determined two years ago that the painting had been looted from Mandel, relying on a small hole in the canvas as evidence of its provenance.

Mandel's lover had cited the hole above the seated woman's torso when she reported the painting stolen after the war.

Gruetters was joined in the ceremony by a of the Kunstmuseum Bern, which inherited Gurlitt's collection when he died in 2014, and an from the

About 450 pieces from the collection by masters such as Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, and Picasso have been on display in Bern, the western German city of Bonn, and in

Gruetters called the Couture painting's return "a moving conclusion to the exhibitions of the Gurlitt trove" and underlined Berlin's commitment to provenance research.

"We have Mandel's family to thank that we could show this work in all three exhibitions," she said.

"In this way, we could inform the public about the fate of the Jewish Mandel, who was persecuted and imprisoned by the Nazis".

More than 1,500 works were discovered in 2012 in the possession of Munich pensioner

His father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, had worked as an for the Nazis since 1938.

The discovery of the stash made headlines around the world and revived an emotional debate about how thoroughly post-war had dealt with art plundered by the Nazi regime.

When Gurlitt died, the museum accepted the collection, though it left about 500 works in for a government task force to research their often murky origins.

But determining their provenance has been slow, and it is still not clear how many of the works were stolen.

The Couture portrait was the fifth work from the collection restituted to heirs, and the sixth definitively classed as having been looted by the Nazis.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 20:15 IST