Looted Renoir is returned to French heir in NY

United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman left unveils a Renoir painting with Sylvie Sulitzer at a news conference Wednesday Sept. 12 2018 in New York

United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman left unveils a Renoir painting with Sylvie Sulitzer at a news conference Wednesday Sept. 12 2018 in New York

"I'm very thankful to be able to show my beloved family wherever they are that after all they've been through, there is a justice", Sulitzer said. Sulitzer said he fled the city to avoid being pressed into service by the Nazis for his art expertise.

Sylvie Sulitzer, the last remaining heir of her grandfather Alfred Weinberger, a prominent art collector in pre-war Paris, received the work from U.S. authorities during a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NY. As the Nazis advanced on Paris, Weinberger was forced to flee with his family and left his collection in a bank vault in Paris for safekeeping.

Also in attendance was Robert Morgenthau, the former Manhattan district attorney who blocked the return of two Egon Schiele paintings to Austria from the Museum of Modern Art in 1998-an act that led to greater global cooperation in processing claims of art stolen from Jewish families during the Second World War.

The painting was unveiled by United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman at the New York Museum of Jewish Heritage, a fitting location for the granddaughter of a Jewish art collector. Her grandfather had never talked about the stolen paintings, she said, because he never talked about the war. "Hopefully this event brings some measure of justice to Madame Sylvie Sulitzer and her family".

But Weinberger had registered his missing property with authorities, and it was included in a database that had gone online in 2010 of looted art, based on records compiled by the Nazis themselves of what they had amassed. She agreed. The firm discovered in 2013 that Two Women in a Garden was listed for sale at Christie's in NY and contacted the auction house, which took it off the block and asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance. It resurfaced in Johannesburg in 1975, was sold in London in 1977 and then appeared for sale in Zurich in 1999.

Amusing point: Sulitzer, who has already been paid restitution by the German and French governments for the stolen painting, says she will have to sell "Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin" to pay those two governments back.

Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: "Today, as we celebrate the just return of this painting to its rightful owner, we also remember the uniqueness of the Holocaust and reaffirm our commitment to ensure that the words "never forget, never again" never ring hollow". She wasn't sure for how long, though - she has to pay back some money from the French and German governments she got in connection with the stolen works, since one of them has been returned, and she said she can't afford to and will likely auction off the painting.

She wished other families looking for their own lost works to be as lucky as she has been.

"I would have loved him to be here, instead of me", Sulitzer said.

"I hope everybody will, one day or another, have the justice as I had", she said.

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