Boston Museum of Art to Return Painting to Jewish Owner’s Heirs

JTA — The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston will return a 17th-century painting from its collection to the heirs of a Jewish collector from whom the painting was stolen during the Holocaust.

The 1646 painting, “View of Beverwijk” by Salomon van Ruysdael, will be auctioned in April and is expected to sell for between $500,000 and $700,000, according to the Boston Globe.

Ferenc Chorin, a Jewish businessman who lived in Hungary, bought the painting before the war. In 1943, Chorin placed a number of paintings, including Ruysdael’s work, in a bank vault before fleeing the country. When he returned to the vault after the war, he found that its contents, including the painting, had been emptied. He finally came to New York in 1947.

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According to Globe, the museum’s curator, Victoria Reed, had doubts about the origins of the painting due to a label fragment on the back of the painting which indicated that he had stayed in Hungary for some time.

“The mere fact that he is from Hungary set off alarm bells,” Reed said. The Jews of Hungary lost many possessions to the Nazis during World War II.

Chorin’s daughter, Daisy von Strasser, told the Globe that his father, who died in 1964, never sought to find the painting but that he would have been “delighted to learn that a form of his former life had been found”. The painting was found by a lawyer hired by the family.

But, she told the Globe, Chorin was less concerned with recovering possessions than with the relief of seeing the family make it out of Hungary alive.

“I don’t think he would have made much noise about it. He would have looked at that painting and thought that regardless of what they had lost in Hungary, they were the luckiest people in the world because they were all alive,” she said.

Before the war, Chorin was a wealthy man, the head of a steelworks and a member of the Privy Council of the Regent of Hungary. According to a family history compiled by Chorin’s heirs’ attorney, Chorin was able to trade his wealth and control of his factory for his family’s release from Hungary. When he came to New York, he became a financial investment broker and died in 1964.

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