Jewish collector's descendant gets Nazi-looted Renoir back

Sylvie Sulitzer stands with the Renoir painting stolen from her Jewish grandfather by the Nazis in December 1941

Weinberger fled Paris during the occupation and, upon his return, filed a claim to the Renoir painting.

"I'm very thankful to be able to show my beloved family, wherever they are, that after all they've been through, there is justice", an emotional Sylvie Sulitzer, 60, said as Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman pulled off a white cloth to reveal the 12-by-15-inch impressionist painting.

The mission to track down the rightful owners of the looted paintings had been aided that same year by the creation of an online database that organized all of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg task force's detailed records about the artifacts they stole, said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney of the Southern District of NY.

One was "Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin", one of the last paintings Renoir made before he died in 1919, when his rheumatoid arthritis was so severe he had to tie the paintbrush to his hand to grip it.

The granddaughter of a Jewish art collector whose paintings were stolen by the Nazis has had a family reunion with one of the works after nearly eight decades.

One of 13 paintings Jewish art collector and dealer Alfred Weinberger stored in a Paris bank vault before fleeing the city, the Impressionist work was seized in December 1941 before being offered at auctions in London, Johannesburg, Zurich, and New York over the ensuing decades, reports the New York Times.

Alfred and Marie Weinberger escaped Nazi-occupied Paris at the onset of World War II, but they couldn't take their paintings with them. Then, in 2010, Weinberger's granddaughter, Sylvie Sulitzer, with German attorneys, set out to recover the missing 1919 Renoir. The painting might not stay in the family, however.

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"The war was a taboo subject; we never talked about that", said Sulitzer, who owns a delicatessen in the south of France near where she lives in Roquevaire. Finally, in 2013, when the painting had reached an auction run by Christie's in New York City, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was alerted by the auction house, and the owner agreed to surrender the stolen work to the authorities.

Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: "Today, as we celebrate the just return of this painting to its rightful owner, we also remember the uniqueness of the Holocaust and reaffirm our commitment to ensure that the words "never forget, never again" never ring hollow".

However, as Madame Sulitzer has already been compensated by the French and German governments for her family's original loss she has admitted she will nearly certainly have to sell the work.

Scroll through the gallery for other examples of lost and found artworks.

Park West Gallery has said it refunded the buyer who purchased the painting from their sale in 2009, once learning of its origin.

"I hope everybody will, one day or another, have the justice as I had", she said.

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