Excerpt from: NPR (click for full article)
During World War II, the Nazis plundered tens of thousands of works of art from the private collections of European Jews, many living in France. About 75 percent of the artwork that came back to France from Germany at the end of the war has been returned to their rightful owners.
But there are still approximately 2,000 art objects that remain unclaimed. The French government has now begun one of its most extensive efforts ever to find the heirs and return the art.
French law states that at art pillaged during World War II must be publicly exhibited, if its condition permits, so that it can be recognized and claimed.
"Up until now, France put the maximum information at public disposal and waited for reaction. For people to come forward. Now we're proactively tracking down the descendants and families of those who had their art stolen," says Thierry Bajou, who is coordinating the French government's efforts.