"President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland accepted the paintings -- "The Hunt" and "Off to the Hunt" -- at Poland's consulate in Manhattan. U.S. officials had seized the works of art last year from two New York auction houses.
"The two World Wars that we experienced and numerous uprisings ... left Poland's national heritage really impoverished," said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Poland's culture minister. "That is why every object that returns to our country has huge value that is both spiritual and emotional."
Polish artist Julian Falat painted the works, “The Hunt” and “Off to the Hunt” in the late 1800s. They were among the prize works at the Polish museum that were confiscated in August 1944 when the German S.S. took over the museum and removed its most valuable treasures.
The location of the two paintings remained unknown until 2006 when Polish government authorities discovered they were up for sale at two auction houses in New York City.
It took a federal court case to win forfeiture of the paintings as stolen property so they could be returned to Poland. They are currently valued at $50,000 apiece, according to U.S. authorities who were involved in returning the property.