Stolen art in Amsterdam Museum

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The Amsterdam Museum intends to contact the heirs of Jewish banker Paul May about a painting in its collection which was auctioned by the Nazis in 1941.

The announcement was prompted by a special edition of current affairs TV show Brandpunt which focused on stolen Jewish art in museum collections. The painting in question is a portrait of Anna Jacobsdochter Blaeu – the mother of well-known Dutch poet P.C. Hooft - painted by Cornelis van der Voort. Paul May and his wife committed suicide when the Dutch army surrendered on 15 May 1940. The German invaders seized and auctioned the banker's art collection soon after.

The Amsterdam Museum, formerly the Amsterdam Historical Museum, says it bought the painting at an auction in Cologne in 1965 and was not aware of its exact provenance until Tuesday. The museum has been conducting research into the provenance of all 20,000 works in its collection that were acquired after 1945. However, its research is conducted in chronological order and the museum is currently researching the provenance of its acquisitions after 1960.

The museum's research is part of  ‘Provenance Acquisitions after 1933’, a nationwide programme set up by the Netherlands Museum Association in 2009.

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