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A new scandal has rocked the art world, the likes of which have not been seen since the "early Vermeer" scandal of the 1940s. Sotheby’s was recently forced to take back an £8.4 million ‘Frans Hals,’ because it was revealed to be a fake. The paintings in question are Old Masters, said to be by Frans Hals, Lucas Cranach, and others. Few major art figures are willing to speak openly because the scandal is a matter of such embarrassment, but one well-known dealer has described the individual behind the forgeries as the “Moriarty of fakers” because they are so brilliantly constructed.

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The recently released movie "The Monuments Men" tells of Hitler's attempt to steal or destroy Europe's greatest works of art, and the men FDR sent into harm's way to stop him. Thousands of works of art and many masterpieces were recovered and returned to their rightful owners. Yet today, seven decades after the fall of the Third Reich, other stolen works of art—some from owners who perished in the Holocaust—hang in museums in Europe and in America.

In the U.S., for instance, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., is fighting a claim by Marei von Saher, heir of Jewish Dutch art dealer Jacques Goudstikker, whose collection was forcibly sold to the Nazis in 1940. The works in question are 16th-century oil paintings by Lucas Cranach. The museum has denied Ms. von Saher's claim on grounds that the statute of limitations on looted art has run out.

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