Heirs of collector sue Hungary for return of art stolen by Nazis

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HEIRS OF Hungary’s greatest prewar art collector are suing the country in the US courts over ownership of paintings worth an estimated $100 million (€76 million) in the largest unresolved claim for art confiscated during the Holocaust.

The collection of banker Baron Mor Lipot Herzog included works by El Greco, Lucas Cranach the Elder, de Zurbaran, van Dyck, Velázquez and Monet, some of which now hang in Budapest’s finest museums. But they are tainted by the tragedy that befell Europe’s Jews, and by the bitterness of a long-running ownership battle between Hungary and the Herzogs.

When Baron Herzog died in 1934, his collection of some 2,500 pieces passed to his widow and subsequently to three children, Erzsebet, Istvan and Andras.

Andras was sent to a labour camp in 1942 and died shortly afterwards, while Istvan was deported along with more than 400,000 other Hungarian Jews to the German extermination camps. He escaped from a train on the way to Auschwitz and spent the rest of the war in hiding....

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