Monday, April 13, 2009

Speaking of Art

Last week, two 16th century paintings that hung in William Randolph Heart's castle were confiscated by the Nazis in 1935. Last week Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman handed them over on the second day of Passover.

The three works were acquired by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst for his 165-room, hilltop castle in 1935; the origins were unknown at the time.

The family struck a deal with the state of California several months ago, after San Simeon curators agreed the paintings were Oppenheimer holdings sold at a Judenauktion, a coerced auction of Jewish possessions.

The paintings were deeded to the State of California with the sale of Heart Castle.

Peter Bloch of Boynton Beach, Florida and Inge Blackshear of Buenos Aires accepted the oil paintings on behalf of their grandparents, Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer. Inge died at Auschwitz and Jakob died in poverty in Nice France in 1941.

Schwarzenegger's whose father was a member of the Nazi Party, said that the return of the paintings had special meaning for him.

The returned paintings are "Portrait of Alvise Vendramin," attributed to the school of Jacopo Tintoretto, and "Portrait of a Bearded Gentleman," credited to the school of Giovanni Cariani.

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