French culture minister returns artworks stolen by Nazis to the rightful owners

Two paintings and a sculpture from the 15th century, stolen by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 from German Jews, were returned to the heirs of the original owners by the French culture minister as part of the „National Museums Recovery ” initiative.

Rima Abdul Malak, the French culture minister, returned artworks stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War to the rightful heirs as part of the „National Museums Recovery ” initiative, reports the rfi.

The culture minister handed over a 15th-century painting on wood entitled „Battle Scene: Siege of Carthage by Scipion Émilien” to the heirs of Agathe and Ernst Saulmann on Tuesday, April 18. The piece had been at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers. The other returned artwork from the same century, known as „Madonna and Child”, had been in the Musée de Picardie in Amiens. A sculpture titled „Virgin of Pity”, made by the entourage of Gil de Siloé (also 15th century), and which was in the Louvre, was given to the heirs of Harry Fuld junior.

The three works returned on April 18 were part of the so-called „National Museums Recovery „(MNR) initiative, a national program under which 2,200 pieces of art were identified in the early 1950s from among those found in Germany at the end of the Second World War. These were brought back to France and are waiting to be returned to the rightful heirs of the original owners. A total of 184 MNR and similar works and objects have been returned since 1950. Since a law voted on February 21, 2022, 15 more works from national or territorial public collections have left the public domain and been returned to their Jewish owners.

Culture Minister Malak also announced that she would present a bill aimed at „facilitating other restitutions of works” looted by Nazi Germany to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, April 19.