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Dutch will return looted art

February 07, 2006|From Associated Press

The Dutch government agreed Monday to return 202 artworks to descendants of Jacques Goudstikker, a Jewish art dealer whose collection had been seized by Adolf Hitler's top aide.

Goudstikker fled Holland at the start of World War II. About 800 of his artworks were seized by Hermann Goering, and 300, mostly by Dutch artists, were returned to the Netherlands' government after the war.

The decision was a victory for Goudstikker's family, who had fought for years to regain possession of the artwork, valued in the tens of millions of dollars. The works had been ceded by Goudstikker's widow in a much-disputed settlement in 1952.

Medy van der Laan, undersecretary for culture and education, said the government found that returning the works was the morally correct action. Museums won't be compensated, she said.

Meanwhile, in Vienna, the Belvedere Gallery packed five Gustav Klimt paintings Monday for return to a Los Angeles woman whose family owned the works when they were stolen by the Nazis.

About 10,000 people had lined up for hours over the weekend for a final glimpse of the cherished Klimt paintings, which have hung for decades at the gallery in Belvedere Castle.

Last month, an arbitration court ruled that the paintings must be returned to Maria Altmann. Austria had hoped to find a way to buy back the paintings, but officials conceded last week they could not afford the $300-million price tag.

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