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Painting Stolen By Nazis Returned To 101-Yr-Old Woman — And It’s Not The First Time.

When Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck was a child, her home in the Netherlands was filled with beautiful things.

Her father, Joan Hendrik Smidt van Gelder, was a pediatrician at the city’s children’s hospital. Charlotte recalls that he was passionate about art, collecting as many lovely, original paintings as he could afford. Then World War II started, and Joan was put in an impossible situation: Side with the Nazis, or resist and face persecution and even death.

He chose the latter, refusing to follow the Nazi’s orders, going into hiding instead. Charlotte also became a resistance fighter to help their Jewish neighbors escape persecution.

Before Joan left, he made sure to stash the most priceless paintings in his collection, 14 in all, in a bank vault in Arnhem. Joan thought the art would be safe because Nazis were not supposed to raid bank vaults, but that information turned out to be false. In 1944, the German army looted the entire city, leaving nothing behind.

“When we came home after eight months, all was stolen,” she recalled. “They had found everything. You wouldn’t believe what the Germans did.”

The family sadly assumed that their works of art were lost forever, but they never gave up hope of seeing them again.

After the war, the family tried to track down the stolen loot, but it wasn’t until 2017 that they finally got a lead. A painting called “The Oyster Meal” by Jacob Ochtervelt had been found. The Commission for Looted Art in Europe traced it back to Charlotte, who was 97 at the time.

Charlotte was invited to come to the gallery to see if it was her family’s painting. The moment she saw it, she knew it was the one!

“I recognized it immediately,” said Charlotte. “It was very moving, to be honest.”

“I was amazed,” she continued.

Although her father passed away in 1969, she knew he would have been “so happy that it came back.”

In 2022, another one of Charlotte’s family paintings was recovered. A 1683 portrait of Steven Wolters painted by Dutch master Caspar Netscher was returned to Charlotte, who is now 101 years old! Like the first recovered painting, Charlotte plans to consign it to Sotheby’s in London, England to help support her family. Each of these paintings is expected to sell for about $35,000 to $72,000!

“I had five brothers and sisters,” she said. “There are 20 offspring and they are very sweet, so I never had the feeling that it was mine. It’s from the family.”

Something tells us Joan would be smiling right now! It’s wonderful that these precious stolen artworks were returned to their rightful owner. It’s even better that selling them will help Joan’s descendants live better lives while contributing art to humanity.

Don’t forget to share this story to spread the remarkable news of the paintings’ return.

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