US returns Polish painting stolen by Nazis

AFP| Updated: Feb 07, 2014, 01:45 AM IST

New York: A painting by Johann Conrad Seekatz stolen from a Warsaw museum by the Nazis during World War II has been handed back to Poland, US authorities said Thursday.

The painting -- "St.Philip Baptizing a Servant of Queen Kandaki" -- was looted from the National Museum of Warsaw during the 1939-1945 conflict, federal prosecutors in New York said in a statement.

Known as the "Seekatz Painting," the artwork criss-crossed the globe before resurfacing in 2006, when it was sold to a gallery in London under another title.

A 2012 evaluation established that the painting was in fact the artwork stolen by German troops more than half a century earlier.

The painting was recovered by US officials after a seizure order filed in July 2012, and was formally handed back to Poland`s Minister of Culture, Bogdan Zdrojewski and Polish ambassador to the United Sites Ryszard Schnepf at a ceremony on Thursday.

"We are very pleased to finally be able to return this Polish national treasure to the country and its people," said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Seekatz (1719-1768) was one of the most prominent German painters of the 18th century.

The Nazis systematically looted countless works of art during World War II. Many have been recovered and returned to their original owners but others have never been found.