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US to return 18th-century painting seized by Nazis to Poland


FILE: May 1945: This photo provided by The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art of Dallas, shows Monuments Man James Rorimer, with notepad, as he supervises American GI's hand-carrying paintings down the steps of the castle in Neuschwanstein, Germany. (AP)

An 18th-century painting confiscated from a Warsaw museum during the Nazi occupation will be returned to Poland by the U.S. government, officials said Wednesday, just days before the release of a film about about the search for art stolen during World War II. 

The oil-on-copper painting, "St. Philip Baptizes the Servant to Queen Candace," by the German artist Johann Conrad Seekatz, will be given to the Polish Consulate in New York by federal Homeland Security Investigations officials during a handover ceremony on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. 

Federal officials declined to provide more information about the painting, but said they hoped the release of the new George Clooney movie, "The Monuments Men," would bring more attention to art seized during the war, Reuters reported. 

"When the movie comes out, there's going to be more people looking at (artwork) in their homes that a family relative may have passed down through generations, that may not actually belong to them," Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Reuters.

"If members of the American public question the provenance of cultural objects from World War Two in their possession, they are urged to call Homeland Security Investigations." 

The Monuments Men helped return almost 5 million works of art and cultural objects looted by the Nazis during World War II, but hundreds of thousands of treasures are still missing.  

The Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art has compiled a list of "most wanted" works of art and documents. They include works by Sandro Botticelli, Auguste Rodin and Paul Cezanne. 

The Dallas-based foundation also notes that there are still missing albums from two series that document works taken by the Nazis. The foundation hopes that a new feature on its website will help recover some of those works.  

Navas told Reuters that Homeland Security Investigations have been actively collaborating with the Monuments Men Foundation for more than a year.   

"We are collaborating with them and want to continue to work with them," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click here for more from Reuters.

Click here for more from The New York Times.

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