COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man said he had no idea an 18th-century painting hanging in his home for over 20 years had been looted from a Polish museum by the Nazis during World War II.
John Bobb, of Westerville, learned that history when the FBI's Cincinnati office called in July.
Bobb said he thought the 1728 painting was just a good example of Baroque art, one of his favorite periods. He bought the artwork from an American serviceman's family in 1990 and said his research on it went cold.
Bobb said the agent who called was chasing a lead in central Ohio on the stolen piece and was given his last name.
The "Portrait of a Young Man" by Krzysztof Lubieniecki (keh-ZHISH'-tahf loo-beh-NEECH'-kee) had been taken from the National Museum in Warsaw in 1944.
The work was pilfered during the Warsaw uprising as part of the Nazi plunder under the direction of Hermann Goering. It was believed to have been sent to a castle in Austria before the American GI took it home to Columbus.
Bobb and his wife, Janis, met with Polish officials last week who were able to verify that their painting was the missing artwork.
The couple returned the piece to representatives of the Polish Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage during a ceremony at the FBI's Columbus office on Sept. 24.
Polish officials told the Bobbs that approximately 70 percent of their country's art was taken during the war.
"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," Janis Bobb said.
The Bobbs have been invited to a rededication ceremony for "Portrait of a Young Man" in Warsaw. The art-collecting couple said they will both attend.
Janis Bobb said her and her husband have enjoyed the work but believe it belongs in the Polish museum.