A rare, 450-year-old astrological compendium the Toledo Museum of Art purchased for $6,500 in 1954 is being returned to its rightful owner in Germany after documentation has shown it was probably one of many pieces of German art stolen after World War II.
The device, called an astrolabe, was used to tell time and make astronomical calculations less than 50 years after Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition circumnavigated the globe by sea for the first time, the Toledo Museum of Art said in a statement released this afternoon.
The Toledo museum said it is making preparations to return it to Gotha Museum in Germany next month.
The Gotha Museum contacted the Toledo museum about the piece in 2013, supplying what Toledo museum officials described as "extensive documentation, including photographs, which convinced TMA officials that the Toledo astrolabe was the same one missing since 1945."
In return, the Gotha Museum said it plans to provide the Toledo Museum of Art with other unspecified pieces at a later date.
This marks the fourth time the museum has announced it will return an object to its home country after questions arose regarding its acquisition history.
The most recent occurred last fall, when the Toledo Museum of Art said a rare bronze statue of the Hindu diety Ganesh would be returned to India.