WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — A centuries-old masterpiece, stolen from a museum in Poland by the Nazis during World War II, ends up in the home of a central Ohio couple.
The Bobbs are art collectors; various works fill their home. They especially love art with history. But this piece, an early 1700’s painting by Krzystof Lubienieck, had a dark history they learned of just a few months ago.
In 1944, during the Warsaw uprising, it was taken from a national art museum and believed to be sent to a castle in Austria. It was part of what became known as the Nazi plunder, under the direction of Hermann Goering. In 1990, 46 years later, the widow of a World War II soldier was selling it and the Bobbs, not knowing its history, bought it.
“We didn’t think a lot about it,” said John Bobb, who owned the painting until this summer. “I loved it, it was a good example of Baroque art, and that was the extent of it because I tried to research it and ran into dead ends in my research.”
Then, this summer he received the phone call.
“He introduced himself as an FBI agent out of the Cincinnati office and was investigating a piece of looted art from the Second World War, that was located somewhere here in central Ohio and he was given the last name of Bobb.”
Last week, they met with a delegation from Poland who verified that this was the painting, stolen from a museum in Warsaw in 1944, made its way to Austria with the Nazis, then to the U.S., then eventually to the Bobbs.
They gave it back to the delegation.
“I was almost in tears the other day, because I think it was really gratifying to know that it’s going to go back and I asked the ladies from Poland will it be back in the Warsaw museum and they said yes.”
The Bobbs say they are invited to a re-dedication ceremony in Warsaw and they plan on going.
The museum only had the painting, from 1728, for only 15 years before it was looted.