NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On the eve of a movie release about an eerily similar subject, U.S. officials returned a painting stolen by Nazis during World War II to Poland on Thursday.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, the Johann Conrad Seekatz painting — titled “St. Philip Baptizing A Servant Of Queen Kandaki” — was looted from the Polish National Museum in Warsaw in 1938.
In 2006, the Polish government learned that the art, erroneously labeled with another title, was sold by a New York auction house to a London art gallery. Polish officials contacted United States authorities, who began the process of authenticating the painting.
It was finally returned during a ceremony at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Midtown.
James Hayes Jr., a special agent-in-charge with Homeland Security Investigations, told Cornell it’s just an interesting coincidence that the movie “The Monuments Men,” starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, opens Friday, celebrating the military efforts to recover art stolen by the Nazis.
“Certainly, we are looking forward to the exposure that the film is going to give to, not only the efforts of the service men of World War II, but also what our investigators do today on a daily basis, which is investigate, recover, authenticate and return looted and stolen pieces of art and antiquities,” Hayes said.
Hayes said the Seekatz painting is the 23rd stolen work of art from World War II that his team has been able to return to their rightful owners.
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