A Norway musuem said it would return a Nazi-looted painting by Henri Matisse to the heirs of its former Jewish owner.
The Henie Onstad Art Center near Oslo, or HOK, announced Friday that it would return the 1937 painting “Woman in Blue in Front of a Fireplace,” which has been part of the museum’s collection since the HOK was established in 1961 by shipping magnate Niels Onstad and his wife, Olympic figure-skating champion Sonja Henie. Onstad acquired the artwork from Galerie Henri Benezit in Paris around 1950.

The painting is worth about $40 million, according to reports.
“Although it is HOK’s unwavering position that both Niels Onstad, and subsequently HOK, acquired the painting in good faith, HOK has chosen to adhere to international conventions and return the painting to Rosenberg’s heirs,” the museum said in a statement.

In June 2012, the heirs of the late art dealer Paul Rosenberg contacted the museum, which the statement said led to an “extensive investigation” to determine the artwork’s provenance. Norwegian law would have allowed the museum to keep the portrait.

The painting, which has been a centerpiece of the museum’s collection, was removed from display after the claim was made.
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