France gives long-unclaimed artwork to Jewish couple's heirs

CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - Henrietta Schubert , left, and Christopher Bromberg, right, grandchildren of Henry and Hertha Bromberg, listen to speeches next to the oil work entitled 'Triptych of the Crucifixion' attributed to Flemish painter Joachim Patinir during a ceremony of restitution at Culture ministry in Paris, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. The French state has given back to its rightful owners a 16th century painting spoliated by the Nazis in the Second World War. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - Henrietta Schubert , right, and Christopher Bromberg, left, grandchildren of Henry and Hertha Bromberg, look at the oil work entitled 'Triptych of the Crucifixion' attributed to Flemish painter Joachim Patinir during a ceremony of restitution at Culture ministry in Paris, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. The French state has given back to its rightful owners a 16th century painting spoliated by the Nazis in the Second World War. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS — A 16th century oil painting that fell into Nazi hands during World War II was returned by France's government to a Jewish couple's heirs Monday.

The Flemish painting "Triptych of the Crucifixion" is attributed to Joachim Patinir and it had sat unclaimed in a French museum for seven decades.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen presented it to the grandchildren of Hertha and Henry Bromberg during a ceremony at Paris' culture ministry.

The Jewish couple sold works under duress to secure their passage from Nazi Germany to the United States.

"The feeling of thanks and gratitude is more valuable than the painting itself," said a grandson, Christopher Bromberg.

France has in recent years stepped up efforts to identify the owners of lost or looted World War II treasures.

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