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France to return stolen artwork to Jewish owners

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13:05 CET+01:00
France will return seven paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries to the heirs of two Jewish families whose artworks were stolen during World War II, the culture ministry told AFP on Thursday.

Six paintings by Italian and German artists will be returned to Thomas Selldorff, the octogenarian grandson of Austrian textile magnate Richard Neumann, who was forced to flee his country in 1938.

Neumann came with part of his art collection to Paris but fled to Spain when the Nazis occupied France and eventually reached Cuba, where he settled. His grandson is based in the United States.

An avid art collector, Neumann had more than 200 works of art in his Vienna villa. The six paintings he brought with him to Paris were eventually seized by the Nazis for a museum that Adolf Hitler wanted to build in his native Linz.

The works include "The Allegory of Venice" by Gaspare Diziani (1689-1767), "Saint Francis" by Salvator Francesco Fontebasso (1709-1769) and Venetian painter Alessandro Longhi's "Portrait of Bartolomeo Ferracina."

The other oeuvres are by Italian masters Sebastiano Ricci and Gaetano Gandolfi, and the German painter Francois-Charles Palko. Several of them are on display at the Louvre museum in Paris.

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Another painting, "The Stop" by Dutch artist Pieter Jansz van Asch, will be returned to the family of Prague banker Josef Wiener who died during deportation.

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