2,000 artworks that were looted by the Nazis in WWII still remain unclaimed by the original owners. 296 of those are in the Louvre’s collection, and 31 of the paintings are now on display in the museum with the hope that relatives will come forward. The list of art looted from elsewhere that is kept in the museum is curated on the Rose Valland list – named so after a curator who kept notes on Nazi-stolen art during the occupation.
As the Telegraphreports, the Nazis looted the artworks during the occupation of France – the paintings were recovered from Germany following the war. The government in France has installed a working group to trace ancestors. Around 50 have been returned to families since 1951.
“The vast majority of the works of art retrieved were plundered from Jewish families. Their heirs may see these works, declare that they belong to them, and officially ask for their return,” Sebastien Allard, head of the Louvre’s paintings department said. “Museums have often appeared to be predators in the past, but we are not trying to keep them.”
Right now the 31 paintings are on display in two rooms permanently, including work by Eugène Delacroix, François Boucher and Théodore Rousseau. Some had previously been installed at the museum, though their origins were not widely known by the public.
Allard states that anyone coming forward to claim the pieces should have physical proof like receipts, testimonies or old photographs.
As well as looting and plundering pieces of art and anything of overt value, tens of thousands of books with ‘Un-German’ ideologies opposed to Nazism were burned under the regime – Joseph Conrad, Karl Marx, James Joyce included.