Friday, April 25, 2008

Art ordered returned to son of Romanian dictator Ceausescu

(AP:BUCHAREST, Romania) A Romanian court has ordered the National Art Museum to return works of art confiscated during the 1989 anti-communist revolt to a son of late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, he said Friday.

Valentin Ceausescu said the collection had been owned by his brother, Nicu, who died in Vienna in 1996 of cirrhosis of the liver. Valentin Ceausescu is his heir.

The Bucharest Court ruling late Thursday can be appealed.

The works ordered to be returned include paintings and sculptures by Romanian artists that are held by the National Art Museum. Among them are works by Theodor Pallady, Corneliu Baba and Nicolae Tonitza. An estimate of their value was not available.

Authorities confiscated the works when Nicu Ceausescu, a Communist Party official, was arrested during the uprising that ousted his father from power. Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed.

He was convicted of genocide in the deaths of 89 people in the central city of Sibiu during the revolt. He served three years of a 20-year prison sentence and was released in November 1993 on grounds of ill health due to liver disease.

Nicu Ceausescu filed a lawsuit seeking return of the art in 1996, shortly before his death, his brother said.

"I hope they will hand the works back, but I am not entirely optimistic," he said by telephone.

A museum spokeswoman contacted by telephone said the museum did not want to comment on the case.

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