Painting Stolen by Nazis Returned to Owners - SLIDE SHOW

By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro; Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email
By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro; Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida Email

UPDATED 4.18.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A multi-million dollar painting was returned to a Jewish family today, decades after it was stolen by the Nazis.

The saga ended in Tallahassee this afternoon when the family attorney arrived from France to sign on the dotted line.

It was the last step in a journey that ended 70 years and more than 4,000 miles from where it began.

An attorney for the family of Frederico Gentili signed the paperwork that will return this 400 year old painting to its rightful owner.

"People were courageous and willing to step up to do what they knew was right and good. When it comes to something as important as history and humankind, you find a way," U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said.

A famous painting stolen by the Nazis during World War II has been reunited with the family of the original owners 70 years later. The painting, called "Christ Carrying the Cross Pulled Up by a Soldier," was created by artist "Romanino" around 1538. In 1914, a Jewish man named Frederico Gentili bought the painting at an auction. Then in 1941, Nazi occupiers in France seized the painting and sold it in an illegal auction.

The artwork ended up in Tallahassee last year during an exchange with a museum in Italy. Then the U.S. government got a tip the painting was stolen and it was seized until courts determined the legal owners.

Today U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh signed paperwork with a representative for the Gentili family transferring ownership to them. Gentili's grandson Lionel Salem was on the phone during the ceremony of return. He said the family has been trying for years to reclaim many of their artworks seized by the Nazis. Now the famous painting will be auctioned off in New York on June 6. Salem said that's the only way to split up the value of the painting among the six heirs of the Gentili estate.

The Romanino painting was seized be federal agents in November. It was on display at the Brogan Museum as part of a Baroque art exhibit. A judge later ordered the painting's return.

Gentili's grandson expressed his thanks over the phone.

"I regret not to have met you and not to be able to give you a huge hug to say thank you," Lionel Salem said from his home overseas.

"It's incredible. It's such a good surprise, a relief, and happiness because it has been a long time, a long wait," said Gentili family attorney Corinne Hershkovitch.

Authorities revealed it was a tip from Christie's Auction House in New York that brought agents to the Brogan's door.

A 1914 Crespi Gallery catalog, which agents found on line and purchased for 50 dollars, helped to verify that the family owned the Cristo Portacroce.

Gentili's grandson announced the family will be auctioning off the painting at Christie's on June 6th.

The Gentili's said the reason they are going to auction the painting after all of this is because there are six heirs with a claim to it and it's not as easy to divide as cake.

The Gentili's attorney says the family is still trying to find 55 more of its stolen paintings. Hershkovitch says the Gentili's are certainly not alone. She estimates the Nazi's looted more than 100,000 pieces of art in France alone.

"This aspect of the war is not very well know, the looting, the willing of the Nazi party to get rid of the people, but also the culture," Hershkovitch said.

The Gentili's thanked former Brogan CEO Chucha Barber and the rest of the museum staff for helping to make the painting's return possible.

"I trust the community will value the institution more today, because but for the Brogan museum this would not be happening," Barber said after the ceremony. "We would not be here recognizing this tremendous opportunity to right a wrong in the United States."

Homeland Security Investigations and Interpol were also instrumental in securing the painting's return.
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[UPDATE] April 18, 2012 -Noon -

A multi-million dollar painting stolen by the Nazi's will be returned to its rightful owner in Tallahassee in about an hour. The painting was taken off the wall of the Brogan Museum and seized by federal agents.

At 1:00 this afternoon, the U.S. Attorney will be handing that painting over to the heirs of Federico Gentili. Corinne Hershkovitch will be at the federal courthouse in downtown Tallahassee on behalf of the family. Eyewitness News will be there with our cameras when the painting is handed over.

The painting called "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue" was seized by federal agents in November 2011. It was at Tallahassee's Brogan Museum as part of a Baroque art exhibit. It turns out the painting was stolen from the Gentilit family during World War II and the grandchildren had been trying for years to get it back.

A judge ruled in February that the painting should be returned to the Gentili family. Today that will actually happen.

That painting by Romanino is valued at more than two million dollars, but the family told the U.S. Attorney working on the case that its return - the righting of that wrong - means much more than that.

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[UPDATE] April 16, 2012 -Noon -

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —

The United States Attorney’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Interpol and representatives of the Gentili heirs will attend a ceremony of return Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at the Federal Courthouse in Tallahassee.

The priceless Cristo Portacroce (Christ Carrying the Cross) painting was stolen more than 70 years ago from its owners in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. This week it will be returned to its rightful owners.

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UPDATED 2.7.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A painting taken from a Jewish family during World War two could be returned to them within the next few weeks.

A federal judge in Tallahassee signed the order yesterday and though it comes 70 years later, some say it is never too late.

The feds literally took the painting off the wall of the Brogan Museum in November.

Monday, a federal judge signed an order which will return "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue" to the family of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe.

The U.S. Attorney has already received a phone call from his grandson.

"He was bubbling over with joy and excitement. He said thank you doesn't express or come close to expressing the emotion he was feeling," U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said about the Tuesday morning phone call.

The painting by Romanino was on loan from a museum in Italy when federal agents got a tip that it was part of a collection stolen from a Jewish family forced to flee the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Holocaust survivor Miriam Schlezinger lives in Tallahassee and read about the judge's order.

"I think it's right. It's the right thing to be done,"Schlezinger said.

The Auschwitz survivor - who still has A10314 tattooed on her arm - called the ruling "kosher."

She recalled returning to her home in Czechoslovakia after the war.

"They wouldn't let me in. I was kicked out of my own home," she said.

The family that lived there returned just one thing ... an embroidered cloth made by her mother.

"I don't think there is any amount you could count," Schlezinger said when it comes to the losses of Jewish families during the Holocaust.

The U.S. Attorney says no one in Italy contested the di Giuseppe family's claim to the baroque painting.

She estimates it could take several weeks to work out the logistics of its trip home.

"It's possible that they could come to Tallahassee or they may prefer to receive the painting elsewhere," Marsh said.

Marsh would not comment on the estimated value of that painting.

She says even she doesn't know where ICE is keeping it.
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Feb. 7, 2012 -

U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh says she expects a nearly 500-year old Italian painting to be returned to a Jewish family within the next couple of weeks.

A federal judge on Monday filed an order to return a Baroque painting to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe. He died in 1940 shortly before the Nazis occupied France. The Vichy government later sold the painting but his family says the sale was illegal.

U.S. authorities seized the painting from a Tallahassee, Florida museum last November. It was part of an exhibit that came from a Milan museum.

Marsh says she's not sure if the family -- some of whom live in England -- would retrieve the painting from the U.S. or if the federal government would ship it abroad.

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U.S. Judge: Baroque Artwork to Return to Man's Heirs
by Gary Fineour

Tallahassee, FL (AP) - A federal judge has ordered the return of a 16th Century Baroque painting depicting Christ carrying the cross to the heirs of a Jewish man who died shortly before the German occupation of France in World War II.

U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle filed the order Monday to return the work -- "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue" -- to the descendants of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe. U.S. authorities seized the Italian painting last November from a Florida museum that was lent it by the famed Pinacoteca di Brera museum of Milan.

The painting by Girolamo Romano is believed to date to about 1538 and was purchased by di Giuseppe in 1914 during an auction in Paris. He died in 1940, a month before Nazi troops entered and occupied France.

The work is believed to have been among more than 70 paintings from di Giuseppe's collection auctioned by the French Vichy government in 1941 in order to pay off debts, court records indicate. But members of di Giuseppe's Jewish family who fled the country because of the Nazi occupation have said the sale was illegal and had sought the painting's return.

U.S. Attorney Pam Marsh said last November that the federal government believed that the painting was stolen and rightfully belonged to the family. Court documents stated that no one other than family heirs had filed a claim for ownership of the painting, which depicts Christ crowned with thorns as he carries a cross and is being dragged along.

The painting was one of 50 works lent to the Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science in Tallahassee. The museum, which had been struggling financially and faces an uncertain future, closed its doors to the public last month.

The painting has been held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at an undisclosed location. No one was available from Marsh's office on Monday evening to discuss when and how the painting would be handed over to the heirs.

Court documents filed by U.S. authorities contended that the Milan museum -- which is Italian government-owned -- should have known that the painting was claimed by the di Giuseppe family. Lawyers for the family wrote to the museum back in 2001 about the painting, which had been acquired by the Pinacoteca di Brera in 1998. The Italian government had been contacted previously about the painting as well.

The former chief executive officer for the Tallahassee museum said late last year that her organization did not know about the dispute over the painting when it arranged to bring it from Milan as part of an exhibit.

Federico Gentili di Giuseppe was an Italian of Jewish descent who amassed a large collection of paintings that he kept on display at his home in Paris. He died of natural causes shortly before the Nazis invaded France. Other family members were forced to flee Paris without their possessions when they heard of the pending invasion.

Some of the family members made it to England, but other relatives that remained behind died later in concentration camps, court records show. The Vichy government ordered the liquidation of the estate based on debts and said that none of the heirs showed any interest in the estate. But at the time there were laws that said that Jews who fled occupied France were banned from returning there.

Court records indicate that some of the paintings auctioned off were allegedly bought by "straw" purchasers on behalf of Nazi officials.

In 2000, two American museums reached settlements with the heirs of di Giuseppe that allowed those museums to keep two pieces of artwork that were in their collections. A French court in 1999 returned five paintings to the family from the Louvre museum in Paris.

In 2008, the American Association of Museums released guidelines for museums to follow to avoid acquiring artifacts that may have been illegally exported. Museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles have agreed in recent years to return artifacts to Italy that the Italian government says were looted or stolen.

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Federal Judge Orders Return of Stolen Painting

Tallahassee, FL -- February 6, 2012 --

A U.S. judge is ordering the return of a nearly 500-year-old Italian painting to the family that owned it before Nazis stole it.

U.S. authorities seized the painting last November from a Florida museum where it had been part of an exhibit that had come from a museum in Milan.

"Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue" by Girolamo Romano, is believed to date to around 1538 and it was purchased by Federico Gentili di Giuseppe in 1914 during an auction in Paris.

He died shortly before the Nazis occupied France. The painting was part of 155 works auctioned off by the French Vichy government.

But members of di Giuseppe's Jewish family who fled the country because of the Nazi occupation have said the sale was illegal.

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Painting Stolen by Nazis to be Returned to Heirs

Tallahassee, FL -- February 2. 2012 --

A painting plundered by the Nazis during World War II could soon be returned to the Jewish family who owns it.

Federal agents seized the painting from the Brogan Museum in Tallahassee in November 2011. The "Cristo portacroce by Romanino" was on loan from a museum in Italy.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says a settlement reached this week will return that famous painting to the family of Gentili di Giuseppe.

Trish Hanson with the Brogan Museum says, "I feel pretty good about the family having something returned to them that was sadly taken from them. It's a good thing."

The painting at the center of this international dispute is at least 470 years old.

The U.S. Attorney filed a settlement notice on Tuesday. A judge has yet to sign off on it.

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Federal Agents Seize Painting from Brogan Museum

UPDATED 11.4.2011 by Julie Montanaro

Federal agents seized a centuries old painting at the Brogan Museum this afternoon, calling it "stolen property."

Prosecutors say it was plundered by the Nazi's during world war two and could soon be returned to the Jewish family that owned it.

Federal agents arrived at the Brogan just minutes after noon with a warrant in hand.

The U.S. Attorney signed a warrant Friday morning calling a Baroque painting on display upstairs ... stolen property.

"We believe the heirs of Federico di Giuseppe are the rightful owners," U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh said on the steps of the federal courthouse.

The painting at the center of this international dispute is the Cristo portacroce by Romanino. It roughly translates to Christ Carrying the Cross Pulled up by a Soldier.

It's at least 470 years old.

The feds contend it was taken from the Paris home of a Jewish family forced to flee the Nazi invasion and later auctioned off to the highest bidder.

"Whether during times of war or peace, the theft and illegal sale of valuable artwork and ancient treasures is a crime against humanity," said Mike Kennedy, an assistant special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations.

The cristo portacroce was one of 50 Baroque paintings on loan from the Pincoteca de Brera in Milan Italy.

Court documents show Gentili di Giuseppe's family has tried since 2000 to get that museum and the Italian government to return it, all to no avail.

The Brogan's Executive Director says when they signed the loan deal, she had no idea this painting's ownership was in question.

"Maybe the Pincoteca di Brera should have known that the painting had some questionable origin or history, but the Brogan Museum certainly didn't know," Chucha Barber said.

The cristo portacroce was scheduled to be returned to Italy on Sunday. Now it'll be kept in a climate controlled vault until a federal judge can determine its rightful owner. Not even the museum's curators know where it'll be until then.

The U.S. Attorney could not give a timeline of when a decision might be made, but says it is likely that Frederico Gentili di Giuseppe's grandchildren will come to Tallahassee to stake their claim to the painting.

It's a painting insured for 2.3 million, but by all accounts worth much more.

Frances Herndon and her sister in law just happened to be at the Brogan when the federal agents arrived. "It was an awesome time to be a part of history and just to be part of seeing what all took place, how old the painting is , and what the painting is of," Herndon said.

The two watched and took pictures with their cellular phones as the unmarked white cargo van carrying the painting drove out of the parking garage.
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THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, November 4, 2011

Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

Following decades of intrigue and months of international negotiations, U.S. officials on Friday seized a piece of valuable Baroque art stolen from its Jewish owners by the Nazis in World War II that found its way from Milan to a local museum in north Florida.

Agents for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seized the 473-yearold painting that was on display at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science in Tallahassee, which had the piece on loan from an Italian museum since March. The seizure comes four months after museum officials and federal agents said they were informed about the history of the painting's 20th Century ownership.

The Baroque work, "Christ Carrying the Cross" by Girolamo de' Romani, who was also known as "Romanino," was part of a collection of 50 paintings on loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy to the Brogan museum since March 2011. The exhibit was slated to close Sunday.

According to federal officials, the painting was owned by Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, an Italian Jew who was living in Paris. Gentili died of natural causes in 1940. After his death, which came a month before Germany invaded, the painting and over 70 other works were confiscated and later sold by the Vichy Government in 1941.

His grandchildren filed suit in 1997 to get the painting back. Giuseppe's ownership of the painting was well-documented, according to a 100-page federal warrant released Friday as officials took control of the painting until final ownership is determined.

"Our pleadings make it very plain that we believe the heirs of Federico Gentili are the rightful owners," U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh told reporters at the federal courthouse in Tallahassee.

Brogan museum officials have been cooperating with federal agencies since being informed in July that the painting may have been obtained by questionable methods. Since then, the federal prosecutor involved in the case said investigators have made a very strong case that the painting original belonged to Gentili and now should be returned to his heirs.

"The plundering of cultural property is one of the oldest forms of organized, cross border crimes," said Michael Kennedy, a Department of Homeland Security special agent. "It has become a worldwide phenomenon that transcends frontiers. Whether in times of war or peace, the theft and illegal sale of valuable artwork and ancient treasures is a crime against humanity. "

The work, which museum officials say has been insured for $2.5 million will be held by the agency at an undisclosed location, Kennedy said.

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[UPDATE] 11-4 - Noon -

U. S. Department of Justice Release

A masterpiece work of art – “Christ Carrying the Cross” – stolen as part of the widespread Nazi plunder of World War II, is being seized today by the United States government through formal legal proceedings, to protect the art until its real ownership is finally confirmed.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) filed a seizure action today against the painting “Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rascal,” by Girolamo de’ Romani, known as “Romanino.” The painting, which dates to circa 1538, depicts Christ, crowned with thorns and wearing a striking copper-colored silk robe, carrying the cross on his right shoulder while being dragged with a rope by a soldier. It has been on display at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science since March 18, 2011, and was part of an exhibition of 50 Baroque paintings on loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy.

The seizure complaint and supporting affidavit allege that the painting is among many works of art and other valuable items taken in a forced sale from the estate of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe. Gentili died in 1940 in Paris of natural causes, just months before the Nazi army invaded France in 1941. After receiving advanced warning of the impending Nazi invasion, Federico Gentili’s children and grandchildren fled from France, escaping to Canada and the United States. Other family members, who were unable to flee, died in concentration camps.

Gentili’s grandchildren have taken legal steps internationally to find and reclaim works illegally taken from their family during the Nazi occupation. In a landmark 1999 decision relating to World War II plunder, a French Court of Appeals forced the Musee de Louvre in Paris to return five paintings to the Gentili family, and ruled that the auction of the Gentili estate in Nazi-occupied France was an illegal forced sale and a “nullity.”

U.S. Attorney Pamela C. Marsh said that, under U.S. law, the painting cannot be returned to Italy until the ownership disputes are resolved. “Our interest is strictly to follow the law and safeguard this work until the courts determine rightful ownership,” Marsh said. “Through this process, all rightful claimants may be heard, and we can rest assured that justice will be done for all parties involved in the dispute.”

“Many people know about the Nazi regime’s massive theft and illegal sale of precious art belonging to Jewish families during World War II. They should also know that today there is an international network of law enforcement agencies working diligently to correct these injustices,” said ICE Director John Morton. “ICE’s Cultural Property, Art and Antiquities unit was established for this very reason – to identify, investigate and return cultural treasures to their rightful owners. Since 2007, more than 2,500 artifacts have been returned to 22 countries including paintings from France, Germany and Austria, an 18 century manuscript from Italy, as well as cultural artifacts from China, Cambodia and Iraq.”

Earliest records about the painting indicate that it dates back to around 1538. It then appears in the collection of Antonio and Cesare Averoldi, and then in the Crespi Galerie. On June 4, 1914, the Crespi Galerie put this painting and others up for auction in Paris, where it was subsequently purchased by Federico Gentili. After Gentili died, his estate was auctioned by French Vichy authorities in 1941, acting in concert with the Nazi occupiers, and the Gentili heirs were prohibited by law from returning to claim the painting. Several extraordinary anti-Semitic laws had been imposed, depriving French nationals who had left France of their nationality and arranging for confiscation of their property. Another German Order dated September 27, 1940, established that, “Jews who had fled from the occupied zone were banned from returning there.” As a result, the painting was sold in the illegal, forced sale of 1941. The painting was thereafter acquired by the Pinacoteca di Brera in 1998.

The United States Attorney, Pamela C. Marsh, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bobby Stinson are prosecuting the federal case for the United States.

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U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh just announced that federal agents will seize a more than 450 year old painting on display at the Mary Brogan museum. Marsh says she believes the painting was stolen from its rightful owner by the German army back in the 1940s. Federal agents will be arriving at the Brogan at about 11:30 a.m. to physically seize the painting and remove it from the museum. The U.S. attorney says a federal judge will then have to decide who the rightful owner of that painting is and it’s very possible the children and grandchildren will have to come to Tallahassee to stake their claim to it.

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[UPDATED] 9/8/2011 --- 11:15PM ---

It's a story with international intrigue: a painting, stolen by the Nazis in World War II, ends up in Tallahassee. In fact, you may have walked past it without ever knowing.

All Brogan Museum officials know for sure is where the portrait of Christ was in 1941, and then again in 1998.

Among packed-up paintings on the third floor of the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science, a rare gem still hangs quietly on the wall.

"Christ Carrying the Cross Pulled Up by a Soldier" was painted in 1538 by Italian artist Romanino.

Much like its controversial subject, the priceless painting has become a magnet for debate.

An Italian family claims it was taken by the Nazis when they fled the regime, and then sold illegally.

Says Museum COO Trisha Hanson, "Our whole part in this is to be that custodial entity and make sure that [the painting is] protected and secure while it's on display."

Museum CEO Chucha Barber explains, "One possibility is the Pinoteca di Brera may offer the families some financial compensation for the painting, and then the Brera will ... retain the painting in their collection."

The portrait is on loan to the Brogan Museum from the Pinoteca di Brera in northern Italy, which purchased the painting legally in 1998.

The other 49 paintings that came with this one will soon journey back to Italy, but the portrait of Christ has a different fate -- for now.

A meeting is scheduled in Rome for the family, and U.S. and foreign governments to discuss the matter.

Brogan Museum officials say they're the legal guardians of the exquisite portrait of Christ until November 20, 2011 -- and they plan on enjoying it every moment until then.

The painting will be part of the Brogan Museum's next exhibit on contemporary Italian art, opening October 1, 2011.

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – September 8, 2011 -

U.S. authorities have notified The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science that a stunning, 400-year-old painting of Christ, on loan to the institution as part of a special exhibit, is at the center of an international controversy involving Nazi war plunder during World War II. Until the rightful ownership of the painting is determined, federal authorities may prohibit the painting’s return to the Milan museum from which the exhibit originates.

The masterpiece, “Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue,” by Girolamo Romano or “Romanino,” circa 1538, was on display at The Brogan Museum from March 18 to September 4, where it was viewed by nearly 23,000 visitors. The painting is part of an exhibition of 50 Baroque paintings from Milan, Italy’s renowned Pinacoteca di Brera. The exhibition was curated by Dr. Simonetta Coppa of the Superintendence for Historical Artistical and Ethnoantropological Heritage for the provinces of Milano Bergamo Como Lecco Lodi Monza Pavia Sondrio Varese.

U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh, of the northern district of Florida, alerted The Brogan Museum’s Chief Executive Officer Chucha Barber that the painting is alleged to be among countless works of art and other valuables illegally plundered by the Nazis during World War II. It is believed that the Nazi-sympathetic French Vichy government seized and sold the work in question, when the Gentili family – the Jewish family that owned the masterwork – fled Nazi occupation during the war. Barber said she was told by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the painting cannot be returned to Italy until the ownership disputes are resolved.

“The Brogan Museum, its staff and its board are actively cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s office, our national government and our friends in Italy to resolve this matter in the most appropriate manner,” said Brogan President of the Board of Trustees Dave Mica.

Giuseppe Gentili’s grandchildren have taken legal steps to find and reclaim works lost during the Nazi occupation. In a landmark 1999 decision relating to war plunder, an appeals court forced the Louvre to return five paintings to the Gentili family that were sold at auction at the same time as the painting on display at The Brogan Museum.

Barber said the Museum is actively cooperating with federal authorities, and providing regular updates to the Milan museum. She added that the global arts community is increasingly sensitive to the need to repatriate stolen artifacts to their rightful owners.

“This case underscores that justice is still required for the egregious Nazi crimes against humanity committed in the second world war, even 70 years later and 4,000 miles away,” said Barber. “The Brogan Museum’s commitment is to protect this treasure and to share its beauty with the public through this exhibit, until its rightful owner can be determined.”

War crimes by Hitler and his Nazi regime included the horrific holocaust’s systematic and massive extermination of Jews and other peoples, in concentration camps and by other means. But the war crimes also included “Nazi plunder” – the massive seizure, theft and illegal sale of art, precious metals, currency and other items that were part of organized looting of European countries by the Third Reich’s agents. Although many items were recovered by the Allies right after the war, thousands still are missing.

An international effort continues to locate unaccounted-for Nazi plunder, with the goal of returning items to families of their rightful owners. The International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR), a not-for-profit educational and research organization, has helped provide information leading to the return of many items.

Earliest records about the painting indicate that it dates back to around 1538, when it belonged to the Antonio and Cesare Averoldi collection. On June 4, 1914, it was put up for auction in Paris and bought by Gentili. Gentili died in 1940 and his children fled to Canada, spending the duration of the war in Canada and the U.S. Other family members, including Gentili’s sister, died in concentration camps. A portion of Gentili’s collection, including the painting on display at The Brogan Museum, was sold at auction by the Vichy government in 1941. Ultimately, the painting entered the Pinacoteca di Brera collection in 1998.

Romanino depicts Christ, crowned with thorns and wearing a striking copper-colored silk robe, carrying the cross on his right shoulder while being dragged with a rope by a soldier. The image of Christ carrying the cross is typical of Lombard-Venetian painting in the sixteenth century and of Romanino in particular.

The entire Italian Baroque exhibition on display, valued at more than $30 million, consists of priceless artworks created from the 16th century to the end of the 18th century, a period in Italian art history which has not been fully represented for many years in American museums, Barber said.


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