Alexandria auction for painting stolen during WWII aims to return it home

The “Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichina” is a 1911 painting by by the Ukrainian artist Mikhail Panin. It was stolen by the Nazis in World War II. (Courtesy the Potomack Company)

An unusual ceremony will take place Monday morning at an Old Town Alexandria auction gallery.

The auction, set to start at 11 a.m., aims to return a monumental painting of infamous 16th century Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible on horseback, stolen from a Ukrainian art museum during World War II, to its rightful owner.

The Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. is expected to attend the repatriation ceremony along with the Ridgefield, Connecticut, couple, Mr. and Mrs. David Tracy, who long admired the painting in their home and sought to consign it last year, unaware of its history.

The large 7.5 by 8.5 feet oil painting had conveyed with their Connecticut home when they bought the house in 1987. The auction house says Mrs. Tracy is a Holocaust survivor and the couple is pleased to see the painting return to its home country.

Research at the auction house led to a museum in Ukraine, which had an inventory of artworks taken to Germany during the war, including the painting of Ivan the Terrible.

Representatives of the State Department and FBI are also expected to attend the ceremony.

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