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CNN Today

Jewish Families Make Effort to Recover Paintings Stolen by Nazis

Aired March 13, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: During the Nazi Holocaust, German authorities seized many Jewish-owned artworks. Now, more than a half century later, some of those paintings are in private collections, others are hanging in museums.

CNN's Richard Blystone reports on efforts to set things straight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD BLYSTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may not be a great painting, the artist, Count Leopold Von Kalkreuth (ph), little remembered. But to Ernest Glanville (ph) and his sister Marietta (ph), it's been worth half a century of trying to get it back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an icon of my childhood.

BLYSTONE: The Glanvilles remember it in their Vienna dining room, a wedding gift to their mother, and remember when, just 62 years ago, life suddenly changed. Nazi Germany took over Austria. The family, Catholics with Jewish ancestry, had to flee and wound up in Britain, and the painting became one of hundreds of thousands of family treasures looted by the Nazis, some recovered by the victorious allies, but not all.

By some estimates, a third of the works in all the world's private collections are Nazi loot. Museums in Britain have tagged 350 of their paintings and drawings that have uncertain histories, some or many of which may be stolen.

ANNE WEBBER, COMMISSION FOR LOOTED ART IN EUROPE: At the moment, there is no commitment to return them to their rightful owners if they are found to be looted, but we hope that this case will set a precedent. We believe that it has, indeed, set a precedent.

BLYSTONE: The Glanvilles' mother learned 30 years ago that her painting had been bought by a museum in Munich, but was told her claim was too late. Now it's too late for her. But things have changed in Germany, and the younger Glanvilles' latest claim took only a couple of months. The painting will stay with the traveling exhibition now at London's Royal Academy under a new name: Gotthilf, the Germanic name the family changed when they took refuge in Britain.

Richard Blystone, CNN, London. (END VIDEOTAPE)

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