A 101 year-old Dutch woman has been reunited with a painting that Nazis stolen during World War 2. Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck had not seen the painting in over 80 years when it was rediscovered in 2021.
The painting belonged to her father, who was a doctor and director of a children’s hospital in Arnhem, in the Netherlands. The prized piece is a 1683 portrait of Steven Wolters by Caspar Netscher, The Guardian reports. Charlotte’s father was forced into hiding after rejecting Nazi orders, but kept his painting in a bank for safekeeping. After the Nazis invaded The Netherlands in 1940, they looted the bank and took for painting.
The painting became lost after the war, changing hands several times. It appeared at an art gallery in Düsseldorf in the 1950s, before finding its way to Amsterdam where it was auctioned in 1969, and was finally bought by a private collector in 1971.
The painting was found by Commission for Looted Art, a non-profit that tracks down and recovers looted art for the original owners. They negotiated with the same private collector that had bought the painting in 1971. It was returned to Charlotte in 2021.
“I was amazed,” Charlotte recounted to The Guardian. She said that her father, who died in 1969, would have been “so happy that it came back”.
After keeping the painting for six months, Charlotte is now selling it, and plans to split the proceeds between her siblings’ children.
“I had five brothers and sisters. There are 20 offspring and they are very sweet, so I never had the feeling that it was mine. It’s from the family.” she said.