Scandinavian Landscape, by Andreas Achenbach

Scandinavian Landscape, a 19th-century canvas by German realist painter Andreas Achenbach, is being restored to the estate of Montreal art dealer Max Stern after being looted by the Nazi regime in the late 1930s. ( Max Stern Art Restitution Project/Concordia University)

Scandinavian Landscape, a 19th-century canvas by German realist painter Andreas Achenbach, is being restored to the estate of Max Stern, the latest artwork returned to heirs of the famed Montreal art dealer after being looted by the Nazis.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Embassy in Berlin showed off the 1837 painting, which was recently recovered with the help of Cologne auction house Van Ham Fine Art Auctions.

A consigner had put the artwork up for sale, but after some research, officials discovered that the painting was among the estimated 400 pieces Stern lost to the Nazi regime before he fled Germany. The seller negotiated the return of the painting to the Stern estate.

Stern, a noted art collector who died in 1987, was a German Jew who was forced by the Nazis to sell or relinquish hundreds of European masterpieces from his collection in the late 1930s. He never received the revenue from the sales and eventually fled the country.

Stern left his estate to Montreal's Concordia and McGill universities as well as Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The three schools formed the Max Stern Art Restitution Project to recover his plundered collection.

The Achenbach painting is the 11th Nazi-looted artwork of Stern's that the group has recovered.

According to a German media report, another seller who had consigned a pair of paintings that also had belonged to Stern refused to negotiate. Van Ham staffers removed those works from the sale and returned them to the individual.

Over the past decade, museums, galleries and auction houses worldwide have slowly opened up to returning Nazi-looted art to rightful heirs. However, when the disputed artworks are in private hands and turn up for auction, heirs must sometimes resort to lawsuits and mediation with current owners for their return.