Europe

Goddess Diana statue looted by Nazis returns to Poland

  • 18 December 2015
  • From the section Europe
The marble bust of the antique goddess Diana is presented during a ceremony of return at the Lazienki Palace in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Image copyright AP
Image caption The bust was reportedly bought by a backpacker travelling through post-war Warsaw

A marble bust of the Roman goddess Diana that was looted by the Nazis has returned to Poland after 75 years.

The 18th-Century statue was taken in 1940, but its whereabouts remained unknown until it emerged in a Vienna auction house earlier this year.

The private collector who put the bust up for auction has now allowed it to return to Warsaw for good.

She said her grandfather had bought it while travelling in the ruins of post-war Warsaw in 1946.

Poland's government estimates that some 63,000 works of art remain missing after World War Two.

The Associated Press said seven other pieces were returned this year, but Mr Glinski said discussions with Sweden to bring back objects taken when it invaded Poland in the 17th Century were proving difficult.

The last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski, bought the sculpture, made by the Frenchman Jean-Antoine Houdon, in the late 18th Century.

It had been expected to sell at auction for close to €250,000 (£182,000; $270,000) and its return was the subject of months of negotiations.

"It is wonderful to have her back with us,'' said Polish Culture Minister Piotr Glinski, who called the statue "a masterpiece".

The bust will be housed at Warsaw's Lazienki Palace, where the last king lived.

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