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Looted Painting Must Be Returned to Jewish Heirs

A U.S. federal judge has ordered a painting seized from a Florida museum where it was on loan returned to the heirs of its former Jewish owner.

The 16th Century painting “Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue” by Girolamo de’ Romani was ordered returned to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe on Monday by Judge Robert Hinkle of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, the Associated Press reported.

It was seized Nov. 4, 2011 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee, Fla., which closed its doors last month due to financial issues.

The painting, which had been on display at the museum since March, was on loan with some 50 other paintings from the Pinacoteca di Brera museum in Milan, Italy.

Giuseppe, an Italian Jew living in Paris, died in 1940 shortly before Germany invaded France. Some family members fled France for England, while others were killed in Nazi death camps.

The painting and more than 70 other works belonging to Giuseppe were looted and sold by the French Vichy government in 1941. His grandchildren filed a lawsuit in 1997 to have the paintings returned to them.

In 1999, a French court ordered the Louvre to return five paintings to the family.

Lawyers for the family wrote to the Pinacoteca di Brera museum in 2001 about the painting, three years after the museum acquired it, according to the Associated Press. The Italian government also had been contacted about the painting.

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