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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nazi Era Art Claims Reach Jerusalem




JERUSALEM -- The Israel Museum has said it is investigating claims that it has been exhibiting a painting looted by the Nazis from its Jewish owners and said it hoped to resolve the issue within weeks.


James Snyder, the museum's director, said last week that the painting, Camille Pissarro's "Boulevard Montmartre, Spring 1897," was given to the museum in 1997 but that it only learned about the troubled nature of its provenance July 9.


The work belonged to Max Silberberg, a Breslau businessman and art collector who died in a concentration camp during World War II. The Nazis forced him to sell the Pissarro and other paintings in an auction in 1935.


Gerta Silberberg, his daughter-in-law now living in Britain, is probably the real owner. Last month the National Gallery of Berlin announced it was returning to her a Van Gogh worth $5 million.


The Pissarro was bought and sold several times before being acquired by John and Francine Loeb of New York in 1960.


Snyder said the painting was valued at $5 million at the time it was transferred to the Israel Museum but would not speculate about its current value.


He said the Israel Museum, a state-owned institution that holds Israel's biggest art collection, had been aware of the painting's provenance but not the circumstances.


"The ownership of the picture has been well-known. It's an important picture and well-published," Snyder said.


"Only with the surfacing of new information from Russia and Germany do provenances take on new meaning," he added.