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17th century looted Nazi painting by Giovanni Battista Moroni returned to heir of owner in New York
Markus H. Stoetzel, Attorney representing heir of Dr. August Liebmann Mayer holds the painting "Portrait of a Man" lost as a result of Nazi persecution and returned to its rightful heir after a press conference on May 5, 2015 at Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. AFP PHOTO/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez.

NEW YORK (AFP).- A 17th century painting stolen by the Nazis from a Jewish German art curator in Paris who was later murdered at Auschwitz was returned to the late owner's daughter at a ceremony in New York on Tuesday.

The painting "Portrait of a Man" by Italian Giovanni Battista Moroni was among items looted from August Liebmann Mayer's collection by the Nazis after Germany's invasion of Paris.

The painting, which had been held at the Louvre in Paris, was recovered by US authorities in cooperation with the French government.

"While the terrible damage caused by Nazi persecution can never be repaired, we hope that the recovery of this painting will deliver at least some small measure of justice," Benjamin Lawsky, US Superintendent of Financial Services said in a statement.

The ceremony to announce the return of the painting took place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, and was attended by Mayer's daughter.

Mayer suffered years of persecution from the Nazis in Germany and France before his death in 1944.

A renowned art historian and curator, he resigned his positions at the Bavarian State Paintings Collection and the University of Munich. In March 1933 he was arrested and detained for several months and repeatedly tortured.

In a bid to escape persecution, he relocated to Paris in 1935 with his family. However when the Nazis invaded Paris he was targeted again and had his home looted. Among the items seized was his library of art, which was confiscated in part by Hermann Goering.

Mayer was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where he died on March 12, 1944.

Mayer's lone surviving daughter thanked US and French authorities for the return of the painting in a statement released through her attorneys

"It is never too late to recognize the fate of those we have lost during the years of Nazi terror," she said.

"My late father was a most distinguished art historian and a great art lover and I am glad that after more than 70 years, justice is finally being served."

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

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