(JTA) — A small Florida museum was ordered to hold onto a painting on loan from Italy because it may have been looted by the Nazis.
The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee was notified this summer by the District Attorney’s Office in the Florida capital that the nearly 500-year-old painting — “Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue,” by the Italian Renaissance artist Girolamo Romano — is believed to have been stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis during World War II.
The grandchildren of the painting’s owner, an Italian Jew named Guiseppe Gentili, contacted the government and the museum directly.
The painting, part of a show at the museum on Baroque painting that just ended, is one of 50 artworks on loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy. Its estimated worth is about $2.5 million.
Five other paintings that belonged to Gentili before the war and were sold in a 1941 government auction after the family had fled France were returned to Gentili’s descendants by the Louvre following a long legal battle.
U.S. authorities and the Italian Ministry of Culture are working to determine who owns the painting.
Meanwhile, The Israel Museum announced last week that it had returned a painting to the heirs of its owner after determining that it was looted by the Nazis from a Jewish museum in Germany. “The Return of Tobias,” a 1934 painting by German Jewish artist Max Liebermann, was sent back to Liebermann’s estate by the museum.
Liebermann had lent his painting to the Jewish Museum in Berlin in the 1930s. It was given to the Bezalel National Museum in Jerusalem in the 1950s after no owner came forward to claim it.
The work is among 12 pieces that the Israel Museum was sending on loan to a museum in Germany. Background research conducted on the piece before it was sent determined that the piece had been on loan to the German museum from which it was looted and that it should be returned to the artists’ heirs.