Painting confiscated by Nazis returned to rightful inheritor


German soldiers of the Hermann Göring Division posing in front of Palazzo Venezia in Rome in 1944 with a picture taken from the Biblioteca del Museo Nazionale di Napoli before the Allied forces' arrival in the city Carlo III di Borbone che visita il papa Benedetto XIV nella coffee-house del Quirinale a Roma by Giovanni Paolo Pannini (Museo di Capodimonte inv. Q 205) Image courtesy of

The painting, attributed to the school of the Italian mannerist painter Giovanni Battista Moroni, realised during the 17th century, and entitled Portrait d’un homme, has been returned to its rightful heir, the daughter of an art historian and museum curator, August Liebmann Mayer, a German from whom the Nazis had stolen the painting before sending him to Auschwitz.

After having been arrested and tortured in his home in Munich, which was also pillaged, the art scholar fled Germany and moved to Paris in 1935. But once again, his home was pillaged and his Portrait d’un homme was confiscated by the Nazis, along with all the other objects stolen by Hermann Goering, before they sent him to Drancy and then to Auschwitz, where he died. It was only 70 years later that the work was finally restored to his daughter.

The works that he held in his collection reappeared in 1945 and some of them were returned to France. Portrait d’un homme is currently held in the Louvre, and has become one of the works listed in the National Museums Recoveries register