Nazi-looted Renoir painting finally returned to its last heir

The Renoir painting Femmes Dans Un Jardin was seized in Paris by the Nazis but has finally been reunited with its true owner

Three-quarters of a century later, Weinberger's last surviving heir, Sylvie Sulitzer, received the work at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NY, the first time she had ever seen it in person.

A Renoir painting "Femmes Dans Un Jardin" is displayed at a news conference, September 12, 2018, in NY.

In 2013, the attorneys helping Sulitzer had a hit on the painting: It popped up for sale at a Christie's auction in New York, Berman said.

One of 13 paintings Jewish art collector and dealer Alfred Weinberger stored in a Paris bank vault before fleeing the city, the Impressionist work was seized in December 1941 before being offered at auctions in London, Johannesburg, Zurich, and New York over the ensuing decades, reports the New York Times.

Weinberger fled Paris during the occupation and, upon his return, filed a claim to the Renoir painting.

Ms Sulitzer was unaware of the extent of her grandfather's art collection before a German lawyers' office - von Trott zu Solz Lammek - contacted her in the early 2010s. It is her first trip to NY.

"I hope everybody will, one day or another, have the justice as I had", she said.

United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman unveiled the property of Weinberger's only heir with Sulitzer at his side, at a news conference on Wednesday.

It had been in NY since at least 2005, when it appeared for sale at Sotheby's.

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Federal authorities in NY began investigating.

"When you're just a French woman living somewhere in the south of France, and then you hear the FBI is investigating, well, you can imagine, it's a shock", Sulitzer said at the news conference at the museum, where she was joined by law enforcement and museum officials.

She said she was thrilled to see her grandfather's Renoir for the first time, but "for me, it's not the fact of the painting really. It's more the symbol of the life I had with them".

The ceremony on Wednesday that returned the work of art to its rightful owner included the law enforcement officials who helped get the painting back to Sulitzer.

The painting will remain on display temporarily at the Museum of Jewish Heritage before it's returned to Sulizter.

Also in attendance was Robert Morgenthau, the former Manhattan district attorney who blocked the return of two Egon Schiele paintings to Austria from the Museum of Modern Art in 1998-an act that led to greater worldwide cooperation in processing claims of art stolen from Jewish families during the Second World War.

But even having it just for a time, she said, has meant more than any famous painting might be worth.

"I'm very thankful to be able to show my beloved family, wherever they are, that after all they've been through, there is justice", an emotional Sylvie Sulitzer, 60, said as Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman pulled off a white cloth to reveal the 12-by-15-inch impressionist painting.

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