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Italian courts deny American heir an export license for Baroque painting of St. Catherine looted by Nazis

February 25, 2011 |  1:15 pm

Strozzipainting Philippa Calnan, a former director of public affairs at the Getty, is now making news herself. After being reunited with an early 17th-century painting by Italian Baroque master Bernardo Strozzi that had been looted by the Nazis from her family's villa in Florence, the Beverly Hills resident was denied an export permit by Italian courts for the work.

She first learned about the whereabouts of the painting two years ago from Sotheby's Milan office. They had received the work on offer from a potential consignor and identified it through research as looted. Shortly after speaking to Sotheby's, she says she received a call from art-loss specialists with the Carabinieri, or Italian state police, inviting her to look at the painting in a back room at the auction house.

"When I first saw the painting, tears welled up in my eyes," says Calnan. "It's a big and very beautiful painting, and I almost felt the presence of my grandfather coming down from above and saying: 'Now it's up to you.' "

Click here for the full story on her quest to recover the painting.

--Jori Finkel

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Image: St. Catherine of Alexandria by Bernardo Strozzi. Courtesy Philippa Kalnan.