France Returns Stolen Art To Senior Citizen

Tom Selldorff had his grandfathers prized art collection returned to him in a reinstitution ceremony in Paris yesterday March 19th. The senior citizen last saw the collection in the 1930’s when he was only 6-years-old before it fell into the hands of the Nazis.

France returned six of the stolen family masterpieces that included works from Alessandro Longhi and Sebastiano Ricci. It is part of their ongoing effort to return hundreds of looted artwork that Jewish owners had lost during World War II. The return of the art pieces end years of struggles for Selldorff, whose claims were validated by the French government last year after years of research.

Selldorff said, “I’m extremely grateful and very moved.” Reports have said that restoring the paintings were not an easy task and took a very long time. The art pieces were either stolen or sold under duress more than seventy years ago while Jewish industrialist and art collector Richard Neumann and his family fled Nazi occupied Europe.

Selldorff recalls his family losing all of their assets and heading to Paris where he fled with his grandmother on foot over the Pyreness Mountains from France to Spain and then eventually Cuba. He added, “I only wish my grandfather was here to be able to be a part of all this, but I am sure he is watching from somewhere upstairs.”

Selldorff, who is now a U.S. citizen, flew from Boston to France for the event. The oil painted masterpieces are on temporary display at France’s Culture Ministry.

Photo: AP Photo/Michel Euler