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Expedition seeking looted Jewish-owned art

PRAGUE (JTA) — An expedition is looking for missing masterpieces from the looted collection of Hungarian-Jewish Baron Ferenc Hatvany in a Central European mountain range.

The search for the art treasures, which were stashed in a mine by SS soldiers, is taking place in the Erzgebirge Mountains, UK’s Daily Mail reported.

The collection is expected to be worth as much as $800 million and includes works by Monet, Manet and Cezanne.

Viennese journalist Burkhart List claims to have discovered documents in the Wehrmacht archive reporting shipments of the Hatvany collection to two subterranean locations in the Erzgebirge Mountains. Other Nazi-looted art has previously been found in sealed underground chambers there.

List used a neutron generator to probe for space beneath the mountainous area where he believes the art was stashed. Only a machine gun, gas mask and key to a safe deposit box have been found. Further underground exploration will start in May.

While some of the Hatvany collection was taken by Red Army soldiers in 1945, the majority was looted at the command of Adolf Eichmann, who amassed considerable wealth in his time in Hungary by offering to liberate arrested Jews in exchange for their property.

Hatvany paid the blackmail and survived the war, dying in 1958 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Many of the artworks he owned still hang in Russian and Hungarian museums, their ownership subject to legal disputes by Hatvany’s heirs. 

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