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FBI Returns Jewish Family’s Painting That Was Looted by Nazis in 1933

“Winter” by American impressionist Gary Melchers, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

A painting stolen from a Jewish family by the Nazis in 1933 has been returned to its original owners thanks to the FBI. 

The painting “Winter” by American impressionist Gary Melchers was looted from the art collection of the Mosse family, prominent Jewish residents and philanthropists from Berlin. It was among more than 200 pieces of the family’s artwork stolen by the Nazis. 

The Moss family owned the newspaper, “Berliner Tageblatt,” which was critical of the Nazis. 

“We can never ease the horrors of Nazi Germany from history, but we can, and should, take every opportunity to deliver any justice we can including the return of property to rightful heirs,” Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said in a statement.  “The Department of Justice will continue to do just that.”

“Winter” was returned to the family’s heirs Thursday during a repatriation ceremony at the FBI Field Office in Albany. 

The painting was eventually purchased by Bartlett Arkell, whose collection is now housed at the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, New York. The FBI tracked down the painting in September 2019. Investigators said there’s no evidence that Arkell knew the painting was stolen when he purchased it.

“While it’s believed there were hundreds of thousands of pieces of art stolen by the Nazis, our office is immensely proud to help right even just one wrong done during this evil period of world history,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas F. Relford said. “We may have played a small role in a massive effort, but we will forever recognize the magnitude of this work and we’re truly honored to be able to return this painting to its rightful owners.”


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