Payout to owners of art stolen by Nazis

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The Government is to pay £175,000 to the heirs of a victim of the Nazis in lieu of four works of his art which were looted during the Second World War and ended up in the British Museum.

The settlement is the conclusion of a case which has dragged on for several years because it emerged the four old master drawings could not be given back to the family because of laws preventing the museum from disposing of any parts of its collection.

A panel set up by the Government to adjudicate in such cases concluded in 2002 that there was firm evidence that the works were seized from the home of Dr Arthur Feldmann by the Gestapo in 1939.

The panel, which recommended the payment, has also suggested that the Government introduces legislation to permit the restitution of objects which were spoliated during the Nazi era. David Lammy, the culture minister, said it was important that questions of ownership arising from the war were resolved. The Government will make the recommended payment.

Uri Peled, one of the Feldmann heirs, said: "We are sure that this is what our grandfather would have wanted, for them to be available to the public and for future research."