Hearst Castle to return paintings seized during Holocaust

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Three 16th century paintings that have hung in the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif., for nearly 70 years will be returned to the descendants of Holocaust victims as part of a deal struck with California State Parks.

The paintings will be handed over to the heirs of Jacob and Rosa Oppenheimer in a ceremony scheduled to take place Friday in Sacramento.


A spokesman for California State Parks said the paintings date from about 1500 to 1590 and that they originated in the area of what is now Venice, Italy. The spokesman declined to provide more details ahead of Friday’s ceremony.

The Hearst Corp. transferred ownership of the paintings to State Parks in 1972 as part of the larger transfer of Hearst Castle to the department.

News of the paintings’ return was announced Monday. An investigation that began in 2007 has revealed that the artworks belonged to the Oppenheimer couple, who owned a gallery in Berlin during the 1930s.

William Randolph Hearst acquired the paintings in 1935 from a different Berlin gallery.

The Oppenheimer heirs have agreed to allow California State Parks to retain one of the paintings, which will remain on public display.

-- David Ng