Jan. 9 (UPI) — German culture officials this week returned a Nazi-looted painting to the descendants of a French resistance member executed during World War II.
German Culture Minister Monika Grütters presented the 19th century painting to the family of Georges Mandel during a ceremony Tuesday at the Martin-Gropius-Bau museum in Berlin.
German police discovered the artwork, Portrait of a Seated Young Woman by French artist Thomas Couture, in 2012 in the residence of Cornelius Gurlitt. It was one of 1,500 artworks in the art collector’s possession at the time of his death.
Gurlitt was the son of an art dealer who assisted the Nazis with the trading of looted art. Police have returned five artworks from Gurlitt’s collection to their original owners.
The Ministry of Culture said the Museum of Fine Arts Bern in Switzerland took over Gurlitt’s collection after his death and in 2014 reached an agreement with the German government to return any artworks deemed unlawfully obtained.
Art experts determined the painting was the one stolen from Mandel due to a small hole in the canvas. Mandel’s partner, Beatrice Pretty, noted the hole when she reported the painting missing after the end of the war.
“This case, too, reminds us to never let up in the unreserved processing of the Nazi art robbery for which Germany bears responsibility,” Grütters said in a statement.
A French militia executed Mandel in July 1944 in the forest of Fontainebleau.