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German Manufacturer Returns Painting Sold by Collector Fleeing Nazi Persecution to Heirs

Dr. Oetker, a family-owned German manufacturer of baking products, has announced that it will restitute a Hans Thoma painting to the heirs of Jewish collector Hedwig Ullmann, who was forced to sell the painting before fleeing from the Nazis in 1938, Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper reports.

The painting is one of four works from Dr. Oetker’s corporate collection that was flagged by a provenance researcher as a possible Nazi-looted work. In October 2016, the company announced that it would contact the heirs of any works discovered to have been sold under duress or taken by the Nazis during World War II.

The Ullmann family did not know that Rudolf-August Oetker purchased Spring in the Mountains, 1874–75—one of a series of four panels that depicts the seasons—at an auction house in 1954 until the company contacted them and said it would return the work.

David Rowland, the lawyer representing the Ullmann heirs, said, “This is an outstanding example of a private company doing the right thing regarding Nazi-looted art and sets a standard of best practice in this field.”