Stolen Artwork Returned

A Rembrandt and two rare drawings by Albrecht Durer, one valued at $10 million, were returned Thursday to officials of Germany's Bremen Museum, where the three masterpieces had hung for a century before their disappearance at the end of World War II.

The three works were among a dozen drawings worth a total of $15 million that were returned in a ceremony at the U.S. Customs Service.

The story behind the works reads like a Hitchcock thriller. They were stashed in a castle in Nazi Germany, stolen by Soviet troops and handed over to the KGB. After that they made their way to the Baku Museum in Azerbaijan, from which they were stolen. Later, they were offered for sale by a Japanese ex-wrestler trying to raise $12 million for a kidney transplant.

Some of the works were recovered in 1997 from under a bed in a Brooklyn apartment.

The works were presented by U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's ambassador to the United States, and to George Abegg, president of the Bremen Museum governing board.

The most valuable work in the group is Durer's 1496 ink drawing "Woman's Bathhouse."

All the works will be on display through Saturday at Sotheby's auction house.

© MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed