Looted art, gay rights merge in recovery of Polish painting

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05/05/2019

A same-sex Los Angeles couple was dumbfounded when Homeland Security agents showed up at their home in 2016 with the news that a beloved old portrait hanging in their kitchen had been looted by the Nazis from Poland’s National Museum during World War II. With heavy hearts, they relinquished the 17th-century painting, “Portrait of a Lady” by the Flemish artist Melchior Geldorp, which they had bought unaware of its origins, donating along with it a 19th-century frame that they had bought for it. The portrait is now hanging again in the National Museum in Warsaw, nearly eight decades after its theft, its return welcomed in a ceremony last September attended by Poland’s culture minister, the American ambassador and the couple. The two men, Craig Gilmore and David Crocker, were recently back in Poland using the connections they gained with their goodwill gesture to reach out to the local LGBT community, offering financial donations and messages of solidarity to a group that faces misunderstanding and discrimination.

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