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Habermann painting stolen by Nazis returned

1970
1945
Daily Telegraph 18 December 2007


When the Nazis confiscated Rudolf Beran's family home in Czechoslovakia, he thought the beloved portrait of his mother would be lost for ever.

Now, almost 70 years later, the 94-year-old has been reunited with the painting.

 
Portrait of Irena Beran, painted by Hugo von Habermann
The portrait of Irena Beran, painted by Hugo von Habermann in 1921

Mr Beran moved to England in 1937 and went on to own a lighting store in Birmingham. The Nazis seized the family home in 1942 and his father, Phillip, was sent to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where he died.

Their possessions were also taken, including his mother Irena's portrait. It was painted in 1921 by the well-known Munich artist Hugo von Habermann and when a German enthusiast set up a Habermann website, Mr Beran's son donated a signed sketch of Irena.

Then in May last year, an official at a castle in Potsdam, Berlin, saw the original painting and contacted the website. It took two years for Mr Beran to reclaim it and it cost almost £1,000 to have it sent to him in Birmingham.

The painting was valued at more than £2,000 but Mr Beran said the sentimental value was priceless. "Once again, at the age of 94, I will have the pleasure of gazing at my mother's image over my own mantelpiece."


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