Artwork Nazis stole in WWII returning to Jewish owner’s heir

Published 9:24 am Friday, April 7, 2017

JERUSALEM — Against an empty white wall in a nondescript Jerusalem law office hangs an impressionist work of art that encapsulates 80 years of tragedy, conflict, mystery and redemption.

Max Liebermann’s “Basket Weavers” is set to return to the American heirs of its original Jewish owner after it was confiscated by the Nazis, jockeyed by an unscrupulous German art trader, and ultimately purchased by an Israeli Holocaust survivor unaware of its murky past.

Following an emotional negotiation, the valuable canvas is now being sent to the United States in what the attorney who brokered the deal called a fitting conclusion to a saga that pitted two Holocaust survivors against one another — and exposed one of the lingering wounds of the German campaign to annihilate Europe’s Jews and steal their belongings.

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Meir Heller, the Jerusalem lawyer whose Israeli client insists on maintaining his anonymity, said both were relieved to have finally closed this historic circle.