Polish police find art haul, includes Renaissance paintings

WARSAW- Polish police said Tuesday they had found a haul of more than 200 missing artworks, including several Renaissance paintings, in the home of a 90-year-old man.
Investigators believe that the man, who lives in Szczecin in northwestern Poland, found the buried collection in the 1960s during building work.

Antoni M., who under Polish law can only be identified by his first name and last initial, then constructed a purpose-built bunker to hide the artworks.
The oldest painting in the cache dates from 1532, police said.
The artworks, which also included religious sculptures, had been kept in damp, dusty conditions and were in a poor state.
Police did not say exactly when they were found, but added that the man's wife had tipped them off.
The haul has been transferred to the Szczecin branch of Poland's national museum to be assessed by Polish and Italian police and art historians.
The only work so far identified is a 1903 etching by Polish painter and architect Jozef Czajkowski, which went missing during World War II from a museum in Katowice in southern Poland.
Poland has been striving for years to track down art which was looted by occupying Nazi Germany and, when it was not destroyed, may have ended up in private hands.
The fact that the haul contained at least one looted artwork and was found in Szczecin could indicate that it was booty left behind when the Germans were forced out of the city.
Szczecin, then named Stettin, was part of Germany until Poland's border was shifted westwards by the victorious Allies after 1945.

Wednesday, September 28th 2011

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