Painting stolen by Nazis 80 years ago finally returned to Jewish heirs

Eighty years ago, a 400-piece art collection belonging to Max Stern, a Jewish art gallery owner, was stolen by the Nazis. Happily this week, FBI agents returned one of the works, a 17th century oil painting, to Stern’s heirs, who became rightful owners after his death in 1987.

Investigators met with them at Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage for a ceremony celebrating the return of the work, “Young Man As Bacchus,” which was painted by Dutch master Jas Frans Verzijl.

The head of the FBI’s New York field office, Michael McGarrity explained to the AP that after surviving “several generations of exile,” the painting was seized when Italian art dealers — who were unaware it was stolen — tried to sell it at a New York City art fair in 2015. It is the 16th piece returned to Stern’s heirs by investigators since the 90s.

A six-person team at the Department of Financial Services Holocaust Claims Processing Office, which is responsible for tracking down items taken by taken by the Nazis, have been searching for Stern’s artwork.

Maria Vullo, superintendent of the DFS, said that retrieving the painting was “a small symbol of justice to those who suffered in the unspeakable horrors of the holocaust.” [NYP]