Historic decision on Nazi art haul

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The Independent Online
AN ELDERLY woman from the Midlands is expected to become the first British relative of a Holocaust victim to reclaim a work of art sold to the Nazis at forced "Jew auctions".

Gerta Silberberg, 85, is hoping to recover a pounds 3.3m Van Gogh sketch which she claims her father-in-law was compelled to sell before he was sent to a concentration camp and died in the Holocaust.

In a landmark ruling tomorrow, Professor Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage, will ask his board for authorisation to restore property to Holocaust survivors and their families.

Wolfgang Kahlcke, a spokesman for the foundation, said last night that he expected Mrs Silberberg to win her case.

"In clear-cut cases, like this one, the president wants authority to act quickly," he said. If successful, Mrs Silberberg's case is likely to prompt scores more claims for works sold in Nazi Germany.

The sketch, Van Gogh's L'Olivette, which hangs in the National Gallery in Berlin, was one of 143 pictures sold by Mr Silberberg for a sum worth an estimated pounds 20m at today's prices.

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