Stolen artwork returned to Jewish family

SACRAMENTO The 16th century oil paintings belonged to /*Jakob Oppenheimer*/, a Jewish art gallery dealer in Berlin, Germany. He was forced to liquidate the gallery in 1935 and flee Nazi Germany.

Two of the three paintings on exhibit at /*Hearst Castle*/ were returned to Oppenheimer's heirs on Friday. However, one will remain on exhibit.

This was the 25th incident of artwork being returned to Jews in the United States. Other cases involved art that was on display in some of the country's most prestigious museums. The museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute in Chicago and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

An attorney for the Oppenheimer family spotted the paintings in a pamphlet featuring artwork at the Hearst estate. Hearst Castle was built by newspaper publisher /*William Randolph Hearst*/ in San Simeon, Calif.

Hearst officials say the three paintings were bought in 1935 from a gallery in Berlin.

Hearst deeded the castle and its contents to the state in 1972, when it became part of California's park system.

Governor /*Arnold Schwarzenegger*/ attended Friday's ceremony. He said the theft of the Oppenheimer's paintings was "the beginning of far greater offenses against the innocent and against humanity."

Reproductions of the two paintings, one believed to be the work of Venetian artist Giovanni Cariani and another by the Venetian master Jacopo Tintoretto, will be hung next week at the castle.

Oppenheimer's grandchildren said the two paintings will be sold and the proceeds split within the family.


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