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.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.