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German panel says Nazi-looted painting should go to Jewish heirs

(JTA) — Another painting from the collection of the late Cornelius Gurlitt should be returned to the descendants of its previous Jewish owner, a panel of art experts determined.

The experts, appointed by the German government, said the painting — “Two Riders on the Beach” by Max Liebermann — was wrongly taken by the Nazis and properly belongs to the heirs of David Friedmann, a German-Jewish industrialist and art collector. David Toren, a great-nephew of Friedmann, had sued the Bavarian and German governments for the return of the painting.

The determination makes the Liebermann work the second of 458 contested artworks to be designated for restitution to the heirs of a Jewish owner, The New York Times reported.

The painting by Liebermann, a leading German Expressionist and himself a German Jew, could be worth upwards of $3.4 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Gurlitt, the son of German art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who worked closely with the Nazis, was discovered by German tax authorities to be in possession of more than a thousand works by some of Europe’s most famous 19th- and 20th-century artists. Gurlitt, who died in May, signed an agreement with the German government that any paintings determined by experts to have been improperly taken from their original owners would be returned.

Upon his death, it was revealed that Gurlitt willed his collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland. The Kunstmuseum has not yet agreed to accept the paintings, leaving them in a legal limbo.

 

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