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Dutch government chases war-booty Savery

The piece was taken during World War II

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A rare and early flower-piece by Roelant Savery dating from 1609, taken by the tenth SS Panzer division from a country house in Holland during World War II, recently surfaced at an auction of Bolland and Marotz in Bremen. F.J. Duparc, director of the Mauritshuis, who was interested in acquiring the painting for his museum, soon realised that it was war-booty and informed a descendant of the original owner Jhr. Mr Victor de Stuers. An attempt on the part of the Dutch government and the German ambassador to Holland to prevent the sale going ahead was frustrated and the work was eventually sold for DM1.3 million (£240,000; $360,000) to an Austrian collector (bidding against Duparc) who agreed to postpone payment for the painting until the Dutch claim was settled. It transpired afterwards that the auctioneer Mr Marotz had purchased the painting for DM60,000 (£24,000; $36,000) from its previous owners before putting it up for auction himself. The descendant of de Stuers has since been offered compensation by the auctioneers and, for financial as well as legal reasons such as the lapse of time, has decided not to pursue the case further.

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