Culture

France to return Nazi-looted Klimt painting to rightful Jewish heirs

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot poses next to the painting "Rosebushes under the Trees" by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, during an event to announce the restitution of the artwork to a Jewish family from which it had been despoiled in 1938, at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France March 15, 2021.
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot poses next to the painting "Rosebushes under the Trees" by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, during an event to announce the restitution of the artwork to a Jewish family from which it had been despoiled in 1938, at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France March 15, 2021. REUTERS - POOL

The French government has announced that it will return a Gustav Klimt landscape painting to its rightful owners more than 80 years after it was stolen by Nazis from a Jewish family in Austria.

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French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot announced Monday that “the decision to return a major work from the public collections illustrates [France's] commitment to the duty of justice and reparation vis-à-vis plundered families.”

The 1905 oil work by the Austrian symbolist painter entitled “Rosebushes under the Trees” has been hanging in Paris’ Musée d’Orsay museum for decades.

The oil work will be returned to the family of Nora Stiasny, a Holocaust victim who was dispossessed of the painting during a forced sale in August 1938.

Bachelot explained that the French authorities hadn't initially identified the painting as being stolen by the Nazis, and its provenance only recently came to light after French government-led investigations into plundered art.

France committed to returning works stolen by Nazis

“It is in recent years that the true origin of the painting has been established,” she said, adding that it was “the only Gustav Klimt painting owned by France.”

"Rosebushes under the Trees is a testament to the lives that a criminal will has stubbornly sought to eliminate,” she added.

Thousands of artworks looted by the Nazis across Europe wound up in French museums after the Allies defeated Nazi Germany in 1945.

Though many have been returned, France has stepped up efforts in recent years to find homes for the scores of heirlooms hanging in galleries and museums that remain unclaimed.

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