U.S. Immigration and Customs agent Peter J. Smith (c.), shakes hands with U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin as a 17th-century Dutch oil painting stolen by the Nazis and missing for 70 years was returned.
Among the roughly 400 paintings the Nazis stole from German art dealer Max Stern in the run up to World War II was a simple portrait of a bagpipe player.
The 17th century painting remained missing for more than 70 years.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents recovered the painting this month, and the $60,000 work of art was returned to Stern’s estate Tuesday – the day known as Holocaust Rememberance Day.
“As we reflect on the greatest murder of all time, we also remember the greatest theft in history,” said David Marwell, director of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, during a ceremony marking the painting’s recovery.
“And we take some small measure of satisfaction to witness on this day and in this place a small act that, within its context, sets things straight.”
Stern searched for years for his missing paintings, but died in 1987 having never found his works of art.
It wasn’t until more than 20 years later that the bagpipe portrait, painted by a unknown Dutch painter in 1632, surfaced.
When customs agents located the painting this month and informed Steigrad it was hot, he agreed to hand it over.
“It is only fitting that we return this precious work of art on Holocaust Rememberance Day,” said Special Agent Peter Smith, of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.