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Nazi-looted, then returned, painting selling at auction

(JTA) — A 16th-century painting that was stolen from its Italian-Jewish owner, sold by France’s Vichy government and recently returned to his heirs is being auctioned off.

Girolamo de’ Romani’s "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue," which was restituted in April to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, is slated to be auctioned Tuesday at Christie’s Old Masters sale.

It is expected to sell for about $3 million.

The painting was seized Nov. 4 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee, where it was on display with some 50 other paintings on loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera Museum in Milan, Italy.

Giuseppe, who was living in Paris, died in 1940 shortly before Germany invaded France. Some family members fled France for England, while others were killed in Nazi death camps. The painting and more than 70 other works belonging to Giuseppe were looted and sold by the French Vichy government in 1941. His grandchildren filed a lawsuit in 1997 to have the paintings returned to them.

In 1999, a French court ordered the Louvre to return five paintings to the family.

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