The painting looted by the Nazis in 1944 was installed Monday at the
museum's galleries for European art after it was returned to its
owner last week and promptly donated.
The life-size figure of St. Catherine of Alexandria— painted in
Italy around 1615 by Bernardo Strozzi — is a promised gift to the
museum by Philippa Calnan, the original owner's sole direct
descendant, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Calnan is a retired public affairs director at the museum and the J.
Paul Getty Trust.
Meanwhile, the fate of a Korean seal from the Joseon Dynasty
In a September statement, the museum said there was "credible
evidence" that its Royal Seal with Knob in the Form of a Turtle was
"removed unlawfully from the National Shrine in Korea."
"While LACMA has not received a formal request from the Korean
national government, we have reached out to them to discuss the
results of our research and a mutually satisfactory resolution,
including the return of the Royal Seal to Korea," the statement
An official at the state-run cultural heritage administration told
The Associated Press that South Korea in May asked the United States
to investigate how the seal ended up at the Los Angeles museum known
for showcasing art from ancient times to the modern era.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department
rules, said U.S. homeland security officials have confiscated the
seal, as they investigate.
Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, said she could not confirm or deny the existence of an
Miranda Carroll, a spokeswoman for the museum, said Tuesday that
officials there would not discuss details.
The 16th-century royal seal has been in the museum collection since
The Korean government has held for years that signets from the
Joseon Dynasty that went missing after the war were stolen by
This month, ICE agents seized nine other Korean seals in Escondido
in San Diego County. Authorities told the Times the seals were
turned over by the family of a deceased Marine lieutenant who had
served in the Korean War. Five of the seals were determined to be
part of the missing group from Korea's Joseon Dynasty.
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However, officials don't believe that case is
related to the museum seal.
The museum gained the painting by Strozzi, known for its iridescent
color and theatrical side-lighting, after it turned up on the art
market five years ago. On Friday, an Italian court ordered it
returned to Calnan.
The Times said it is highly unusual for a major painting plundered
from a private party during wartime to be given to a museum upon
restitution, rather than sold to settle claims from multiple heirs.
The painting, valued at up to $3 million, was one of nearly a dozen
works stolen from the collection of Charles A. Loeser, an American
expatriate and heir to a Brooklyn department store fortune.
The Strozzi disappeared in April 1944, after the
Nazi prefect set up headquarters in the Loeser family's villa. It
resurfaced around 2008 in Vienna, where it was sold by an
unidentified Austrian collector.
Sotheby's was approached about accepting the painting for auction,
but research into its ownership revealed its history as a stolen
piece. The auction house notified Italian police and contacted
Calnan, who is Loeser's granddaughter.
The painting had by then been jointly bought by two Old Master art
dealers. Calnan was blocked by the Italian courts from obtaining an
export license for what was deemed a national treasure. She appealed
the ruling and won.
The painting was shipped from Milan last week.
A popular saint since the Middle Ages, Catherine of Alexandria was
revered for her chastity, scholarly acumen and unshakable faith.
After converting hundreds to Christianity, she was condemned to
death by 4th century Roman Emperor Maxentius.
Press; CHRISTOPHER WEBER,
Hyung-jin Kim reported from Seoul.
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