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Nazi-looted art going back to heirs of N.Y. collector

(JTA) — Two artworks sold under duress during the Nazi occupation of Germany will be returned to the heirs of a New York art collector.

The drawings are being returned to the estate of Michael Berolzheimer, who died in 1942 after escaping from Germany and settling in suburban Westchester County, according to a statement from the office of Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of financial services for the State of New York.

In 2011, the Holocaust Claims Processing Office of the financial services’ department opened a claim to recover works for the heirs of Berolzheimer, an attorney who pursued a lifetime interest in fine art and served on the acquisitions committees of several art museums. The HCPO earlier had recovered three other artworks for the heirs; it is working on 26 other restitution claims for the estate.

A Dutch antiquarian bookseller who owned one of the two drawings agreed to return it after learning of its origin. He had purchased the the 1834 pen-and-ink portrait of a geographer by Reinier Craeyvanger at a Sotheby’s auction in 2005.

The Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany is returning a drawing attributed to the 17th century Italian artist Giacomo Cavedone. The museum acquired the drawing in 1941.

The works once belonged to an art collection of more than 800 pieces.

Berolzheimer and his family fled from Germany in 1938 after selling his art under duress, traveling first to Switzerland before immigrating to the United States. He lived in Westchester County until he died at the age of 76.

 

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