'Fish still life, shellfish, perch, pike, oyster and cat' by Flem Alexander
'Fish still life, shellfish, perch, pike, oyster and cat' by Flem Alexander
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Three university beneficiaries of Jewish art dealer Max Stern's estate blasted a German auction house for planning to sell a painting allegedly looted during Nazi-era Germany, French news agency AFP reported on Sunday.

According to the report, beneficiaries at Montreal's Concordia University and McGill University and from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem claimed that the painting "Fish still life, shellfish, perch, pike, oyster and cat" by old master Flem Alexander Adriaenssen (1587-1661) is the same piece lost to Stern at the hands of the Nazis through a forced sale in 1937.

Lempertz Auction House in Cologne, Germany is said to have possession of the painting, and was also behind its forced sale during Nazi-era Germany.

The three universities jointly asked the auction house to pull the painting from sale back in 2009 to allow due diligence on its provenance and identification, but Lempertz refused, according to AFP.

Max Stern was a German-Canadian arts benefactor, art historian, and owner of Montreal's landmark Dominion Gallery.

The Max Stern Art Restitution Project, a joint undertaking of the three universities is trying to narrow down Stern's collection lost and looted during the late 1930s after Hitler's rise to power.

An estimated of about 400 pieces in total were lost, and by 2006 the project had relocated approximately 10 percent of them.

Stern died in 1987 and left his estate to the universities