Family wants Matisse stolen by Nazis returned

By Saleha Mohsin and Toby Sterling

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 5 2013 9:59 p.m. MDT

This undated image released by Henie Onstad Kunstsenter on Friday April 5, 2013, shows part of the painting "Blue Dress in an Yellow Arm Chair", circa 1936 by Henry Matisse. The family of a prominent Parisian art dealer is demanding a Norwegian museum return a Henri Matisse painting seized by Nazis under the direction of Hermann Goering in World War II, in the latest dispute over art stolen from Jews during WWII. The Henie Onstad Art Centre says it does not dispute that Paul Rosenberg once owned the painting but argues it is uncertain whether the family still have rights to the painting, but Art Loss Register, which tracks lost and stolen artworks, Director Chris Marinello slammed the Henie Onstad art museum for ?stonewalling? and said ?The evidence is overwhelming.....They just don?t want to resolve it." (AP Photo/Oystein Thorvaldsen, Henie-Onstad Art Centre)

Associated Press

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OSLO, Norway — The family of a Parisian art dealer is demanding that a Norwegian museum return an Henri Matisse work seized by Nazis under the direction of Hermann Goering, in the latest dispute over art stolen from Jews during World War II.

The painting at the center of the dispute is Matisse's 1937 "Blue Dress in a Yellow Armchair." It has been among the highlights of the Henie Onstad Art Center near Oslo since the museum was established in 1968.

Museum Director Tone Hansen said it had been unaware the painting was stolen by the Nazis until it was notified of the fact in 2012 by the London-based Art Loss Register, which tracks lost and stolen paintings.

She said Onstad bought the painting in "good faith" from the Galerie Henri Benezit in Paris in 1950. The Benezit gallery "has no record of collaborating with the Nazis, as many galleries did," she said in an interview.

Although the war ended almost 70 years ago, disputes over looted art have become increasingly common, in part because many records were lost, and in part because an international accord on returning such art was only struck in 1998.

But the case of the Matisse is somewhat different in that its former owner, Paul Rosenberg, was one of the most prominent art dealers in Paris before the war.

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