Painting confiscated by Nazis to remain in Jacksonville

by: Erica Bennett Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

It's been nearly 70 years since World War II, but that era is still being felt today -- starting with the Vanitas. 

"It's right out of a movie, quite honestly," said Holly Keris, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens chief curator. 

The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens first bought the 1677 painting in 1962 from a gallery in New York. Turns out, it originally belonged to Dutch art collector Jacques Goudstikker, who fled Europe with his family in 1940. 

One of the few things he took was a log of gallery inventory. Shortly after, Nazis looted his collection and took the Vanitas.  Heirs of Goudstikker have been trying to find it ever since. 

"They've been working tirelessly since that time to track down as many works of art from that inventory log as they possibly could," said Keris. 

This week, the museum settled with the Goudstikker family, and it's able to keep the painting. The art, music and passing of time in the piece are reportedly some of Jacques de Claeuw's greatest work. Now, it will forever be displayed in the River City.  

"The fact that we were able to reach a settlement with the family that's allowing this painting to stay in Jacksonville, we're just all really thrilled," Keris said. 

In 2011, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens celebrated its 50th anniversary. Visitors were able to vote on their top 50 paintings. The Vanitas was one of them. 

The Goudstikker family is trying to track down all 1,400 paintings from the old gallery. Some have been recovered, others are open cases.