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FBI recovers stolen WW II German paintings

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PHILADELPHIA, Dec 7, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The FBI in Philadelphia has recovered three 19th-century German paintings worth $125,000 that were stolen during World War II.

The oil-on-canvas paintings are by the prominent Munich painter Heinrich Burkel. In March 1945, 50 of his works were stolen by U.S. troops, about six weeks before the Nazis surrendered.

An unidentified South New Jersey woman who was unaware the paintings were contraband offered them to a Philadelphia-area auction house, which appraised them and posted them on an Internet site.

That led German officials to contact the U.S. government, and the FBI became involved, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The woman has agreed to give the paintings back to the museum they were stolen from, and will not be charged with anything, said Jack Eckenrode, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Philadelphia division.

"Anyone who might have any criminal intent in this has long since passed away," Eckenrode said.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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