U.S. authorities seized a valuable painting of Christ from a Florida museum on Friday. The painting is believed to have been stolen by the Nazis during World War II.
The 16th century painting named "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue" was seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations unit.
The painting dates back to circa 1538 and depicts Christ, crowned with thorns and wearing a striking copper-colored silk robe, carrying the cross on his right shoulder while being dragged with a rope by a soldier.
According to ICE, the painting has been on display at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science since March 18, 2011, and was part of an exhibition of 50 Baroque paintings on loan from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy.
As per reports, the painting was among several works of art that was taken from the estate of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe. In 1941, just months before the Nazis invaded France, Gentili died of natural causes and his children and grandchildren fled from France amid fears of the impending Nazi invasion.
Years later, Gentili's grandchildren have initiated legal steps to reclaim the illegally taken works of art.
"It's never too late to right a wrong. Many people know about the massive theft and illegal sale of precious art belonging to Jewish families during World War II. They should also know that today there is an international network of law enforcement agencies working diligently to correct these injustices," stated ICE Director John Morton.
However, the painting cannot be returned to Italy until the ownership disputes are resolved.
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