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Boston museum to return painting looted during World War II

January 24, 2022 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — A work of art by a 17th century Dutch painter that was reported looted from a Hungarian bank during World War II is being returned to the heirs of its rightful owner, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts said Monday.

“View of Beverwijk” by Salomon van Ruysdael has been in the museum’s collection since 1982, when it was acquired from a London dealer with no information about its history other than that it had come from a Swiss collection, the museum said in a statement.

The landscape painted in 1646 was owned by Ferenc Chorin, a Jewish collector who had deposited the painting along with other works at the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest in 1943, before he and his family fled Hungary in 1944.

The bank reported that Chorin’s vault had been emptied in January 1945 during the Siege of Budapest, and the painting’s whereabouts remained unclear.

“We are pleased to have worked so quickly and amicably with the heirs of Ferenc Chorin to redress this historical loss,” MFA Director Matthew Teitelbaum said in a statement. “The return of Ruysdael’s ‘View of Beverwijk’ underscores the importance of transparency and providing online access to our collection.”

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Chorin, who along with his family resettled in New York in 1947, was an important industrialist and arts patron in Hungary between the World Wars. He died in 1964.

‘View of Beverwijk’ was listed in a 1988 publication of Hungarian war losses, but because it was published with an incorrect image and description, the MFA was not aware that it had belonged to Chorin or was considered missing.

“Historical justice entails not only restituting the works of art that have been stolen by the Nazis. In many cases the claimants have to struggle for years before obtaining justice,” Agnes Peresztegi, an attorney for the Chorin family said in a statement. “In this case, I would like to pay homage to the MFA for not only restituting the work to its rightful owners, but also doing it in an elegant, professional, swift and just manner.”