Metsu painting stolen by Nazis, heads to auction

 23 Apr 2016 - 12:11

Metsu painting stolen by Nazis, heads to auction
File picture of an ongoing auction at Sotheby's. 

 

New York: Sotheby's said Friday it will auction a work by Dutch painter Gabriel Metsu, looted by the Nazis in 1938 from the Rothschild family collection before it was recovered in 1998.

The work -- "An Officer Paying Court to a Young Woman" -- goes on the block in New York on May 26; it is expected to fetch $6-8 million, the auctioneers said.

The 17th-century painting has had a storied and complicated history. It was seized by the Nazis in 1938 from the Alphonse Rothschild palace collection, after Germany annexed Austria.

The work was finally recovered in 1998, thanks in large part to a group of US and British experts known as "The Monuments Men" who identified the painting and sent it back to Vienna.

Alphonse de Rothschild died in 1942. His wife Clarice then negotiated the return of his collection with Austrian authorities.

She won the case in 1948, but only after surrendering some 250 works to the Austrian state, including the Metsu work.

It took another fifty years before Austria voted in 1998 to implement a restitution law, which let the Rothschild family recover the missing pieces.

AFP