Renoir painting stolen by Nazis returned to rightful owner

Published 13th September 2018
Sylvie Sulitzer poses with the recovered Impressionist painting "Two Women in a Garden," painted in 1919 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir on September 12, 2018 in New York City. The artwork, which originally belonged to Sulitzer's grandfather Alfred Weinberger, was confiscated by the Nazis in Paris during the World War II. The only living heir, Sylvie Sulitzer became aware of the work in 2013 when the painting was listed for sale at Christie's in New York.
Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Renoir painting stolen by Nazis returned to rightful owner
Written by Kwegyirba Croffie, CNN
A Renoir painting looted by the Nazis during World War II has been returned to its rightful owner, New York federal officials announced Wednesday.
The painting, "Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin," painted in 1919 by Pierre Auguste Renoir, was stolen by Nazis from a bank vault in Paris in 1941, said a news release from the US Attorney's Office and FBI.
It was stolen from Alfred Weinberger, a prominent art collector in prewar Paris, and Wednesday it was returned to his last remaining heir, his granddaughter Sylvie Sulitzer (shown in the photo above), at a ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
"When Gen. [Hermann] Goering stole paintings from private collections from different museums around Europe, he needed an expert to verify them," said Sulitzer after the painting was unveiled.
 "Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin" was painted in 1919.
"Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin" was painted in 1919. Credit: Courtesy of Sylvie Sulitzer via AP
Instead of accepting the offer, Sulitzer's grandfather joined the Marquis, "a rural guerrilla group of French Resistance fighters" to escape.
After the war, Sulitzer said Weinberger had a chance to declare different items of his that were stolen during the war, including jewelry and paintings.
According to the release, "The Renoir resurfaced after the war at an art sale in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1975. It subsequently found its way to London, where it was sold again in 1977, and then appeared at a sale in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1999."
Finally, the painting ended up in Christie's Gallery in New York, where it was put up for auction by a private collector in 2013.
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. Hopefully this event brings some measure of justice to Madame Sylvie Sulitzer and her family."
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"It's an amazing decision and I am very thankful to show my beloved family, wherever they are, that after all what they've been through, there is a justice," said Sulitzer.
Christie's said that in 2013, when the painting was consigned, it was estimated to be worth between $150,000 and $200,000.
Berman said, "I'd rather not speculate on the worth of the painting. Suffice it to say that Madame Sulitzer believes that it is priceless."
The painting will be on display in the gallery of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust until September 16.