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France is returning a Nazi-looted Klimt painting to its rightful Jewish owners: "An act of justice"

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The French government announced Monday that it will return a Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt landscape painting to its rightful owners more than 80 years after it was stolen from a Jewish family in Austria in 1938.

The colorful 1905 oil work by the Austrian symbolist painter titled "Rosebushes under the Trees" has been hanging in Paris' Musée d'Orsay museum for decades.

France Nazis Stolen Art
French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin poses next to a 1905 painting by Gustav Klimt called"Rosebushes under the Trees," during a ceremony at the Musée d'Orsay museum in Paris, March 15, 2021.  Alain Jocard / AP

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin told a Paris news conference that "the decision to return a major work from the public collections illustrates our commitment to the duty of justice and reparation vis-à-vis plundered families."

The oil work will be returned to the family of Nora Stiasny, a Holocaust victim who was dispossessed during a forced sale in August 1938.

Bachelot-Narquin said that French authorities hadn't initially identified the painting as being stolen by the Nazis, and its provenance only recently came to light after French government-led investigations on the issue.

"It is in recent years that the true origin of the painting has been established," she said, adding that it was "the only Gustav Klimt painting owned by France."

"The decision we've taken is of course a difficult one," Bachelot-Narquin said, according to the BBC. "But this decision is necessary, essential. "Eighty-three years after the forced sale of this painting by Nora Stiasny, this is the accomplishment of an act of justice."

Thousands of artworks looted by the Nazis across Europe wound up in French museums after the Allies defeated Nazi Germany in 1945. Though many have been returned, French authorities have stepped up efforts in recent years to find homes for the scores of hanging heirlooms that remain unclaimed.

In 2017 a floral Gustav Klimt painting was sold for nearly £48 million at Sotheby's in London, the BBC reported.  

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