Christie's to Auction Off Painting Looted During WWII as Part of Deal With Jewish Heirs

Pro-Nazi Vichy regime had seized painting, owned by John and Anna Jaffe, in 1942.

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A French Jewish family is finally getting restitution for an Italian work of art looted from it during World War II, The Art Newspaper reported over the weekend.

The painting, “A Regatta on the Grand Canal,” is a late 18th-century Venetian regatta scene by Vincenzo Chilone. Jewish art collectors John and Anna Jaffe had owned it until pro-Nazi Vichy authorities seized it along with 200 other works in their collection in 1942 after Anna's death. According to the agreement worked out with the Jaffe heirs, headed by Anne's great-great nephew Alain Monteagle, Christie's will auction off the painting in December.

The painting, conservatively valued at 60,000 pounds according to The Art Newspaper, last appeared on the open market in 1985. An Italian collector apparently bought the work in good faith, well before the 1998 Washington Principles that were drawn up to expedite the return of art stolen by the Nazis, Chris Marinello, the founder and chief executive of Art Recovery Group, was quoted as saying.

“It was a different world back then in terms of doing due diligence, but there was still some liability there,” said Marinello, who noted that an agreement was reached relatively quickly between the current owner and the heirs.

Monteagle said his ongoing search for looted works is meant in part to deter potential art looters.

“If we do nothing then what deterrent does that give for the art looters in many places in the world today? Why would they stop?" he wondered. "Or even museums or dealers – why would they care that there are still blood stains on the paintings they buy?”