Nazi-seized paintings returned to family

UPI 11 April 2009

SACRAMENTO -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was pleased to hand over two 16th century paintings once stolen by Nazis to the heirs of their rightful owners.  

Schwarzenegger and California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman turned over the Venetian paintings "Portrait of Alvise Vendramin" and "Portrait of a Bearded Gentleman" to the grandchildren of Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

"I am humbled to play a role in undoing this terrible wrong for the heirs of Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer," the governor said at Friday's ceremony in Sacramento.

The Oppenheimers lost the oil paintings in 1935 when Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party forced them to liquidate their Berlin art gallery. The paintings ultimately ended up at the Hearst Castle near San Simeon, Calif., the Chronicle said.

Peter Block, who accepted the paintings along with Inge Blackshear, said obtaining the seized paintings was a longtime family goal.

"It is hard for me even to talk about it, but this would have meant a lot to my father," Bloch, 73, said. "He was very bitter about what happened."
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