Stolen artwork seized by Nazis
Stolen artwork seized by NazisReuters

A Paris appeals court on Wednesday ordered the French state to return three art canvasses to the heirs of a Jewish collector who died in a German concentration camp in 1945.

The artworks by Andre Derain are housed at the modern art museum in Troyes and the Cantini museum in Marseille.

They had initially been in the collection of Parisian gallery owner Rene Gimpel, who was denounced by a rival dealer after joining the resistance against Nazi occupation and France's collaborationist Vichy government.

The works, painted between 1907 and 1910, were taken as spoils when he was arrested.

In Wednesday's ruling, the court overturned the judgment of a lower court which last year rejected a bid for the artworks' restitution to Gimpel's heirs.

The lower court had found there were doubts about the authenticity of the paintings, but appeals judges said there were "accurate, serious and consistent indications" that the works were the same ones taken from Gimpel.

"This is great," said Corinne Hershkovitch, a lawyer for Gimpel's heirs, who are still trying to recover other works in his collection.

"The court agreed on the points we put forward and we are very happy to be recognized," she said.
Gimpel, of Jewish descent, was a prominent art collector in the early
twentieth century. He fled Paris early in World War II and headed for the
French Riviera.
He was arrested in 1944 and deported to Neuengamme concentration camp near
Hamburg, Germany, where he died the following year.