U.S. Feds seize looted Polish paintings in New York
Two paintings by celebrated artist Julian Falat (1853-1929), looted by the Nazis from Warsaw during WW II, have been removed from New York auction houses, following authorization from the U.S. district court in Manhattan.
The two canvases, Off to the Hunt and The Hunt, were stolen from the National Museum in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland, when there was systematic looting of national heirlooms when German SS Obersturmbannfuhrer Benno Von Arent, also bearer of the title “"Reichsbeauftragter für die Mode" (Reich Agent For Fashion), took charge of the collections in August 1944.
The Polish government raised the matter in 2006, when it emerged that New York auction houses had come into possession of the paintings. This week’s seizure is the result of an investigation carried out by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of Homeland Security Investigations.
Although the case is still to run its full course, U.S. authorities have expressed the hope that the paintings will be returned to Poland. The two auction houses involved, Christie’s and Doyle New York, have yet to release full statements regarding this week’s developments.
The discovery comes after another Nazi looted painting, the Jewish Woman with Oranges by Aleksander Gierymski, turned up at a small auction house in Hamburg last month. (nh)