Renoir Looted by Nazis Finally Returned to Rightful Owner

The Renoir was looted by the Nazis from a Paris bank vault.
The painting was returned to the original owners' granddaughter. CBS

A Renoir stolen by the Nazis from a Paris bank vault was returned to its rightful owner Wednesday after a long, strange journey.

"Deux Femmes Dans Un Jardin"  was painted in 1919, the last year of French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir's life. It was given to Sylvie Sulitzer in a ceremony held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. 

Sulitzer is the remaining heir of grandfather Alfred Weinberger, who was a prominent art collector in Paris before World War II. She had known her grandfather, but did not know about the looted painting until a German law firm contacted her eight years. The attorneys are specialists in recovering art stolen from Jewish families by the Nazis. 

 "I'm very thankful to be able to show my beloved family wherever they are that after all they've been through, there is justice," Sulitzer said.

Her grandfather also had four other works by Renoir, and a Delacroix, but those have never been recovered, she said.

Weinberger had stored his collection at the bank when he fled Paris as the Germans invaded European countries at the war's outset.

The Renoir first surfaced at an art sale in Johannesburg in 1975, according to U.S. authorities. In 1999 it was sold again in Zurich.  Eventually, the artwork made its way to Christie's auction house in New York in 2013, where staff alerted the FBI. The owner voluntarily relinquished the painting and Sulitzer was notified of the heirloom.

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