Louvre
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France’s senate is expected to approve the restitution of 15 works of art looted from their Jewish owners by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

At the beginning of February, the government announced the decision and the National Assembly unanimously adopted legislation to return the art.

“It's the first time since the post-war period that the government is showing a legal commitment towards the restitution of pieces from public collections,” French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said in parliament.

The families of the owners of 13 of the 15 works in question have been located by the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation.

The senate vote will give the green light to public museums that house the art to return it to the heirs of the Jewish owners, AFP reported.

Once the bill is approved by the senate, it will require President Emmanuel Macron’s signature to become law.

The art in the bill includes paintings by Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt and French painter Marc Chagall. The paintings are located in five different museums in France, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Osray.

Thousands of looted paintings by renowned artists were placed in French public museums after the Holocaust. In 2018, the government began to search for the descendants of the owners, setting up a special agency.

In December, four water-colours and drawings by 19th century French artists that were stolen in 1940 from Egyptian Jewish businessman Moise Levi de Benzion, who lived in France, were returned to his family.

According to the French ministry of culture, 100,000 works of art were looted during World War II when France was ruled by the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.