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A reproduction of a painting by French painter Henri Matisse titled 'Seated woman' is seen during a press conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, on November 5, 2013, on the discovery of nearly 1,500 paintings including works by Picasso and Matisse looted by the Nazis found in an apartment belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt, the octogenarian son of art collector Hildebrand Gurlitt.

CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP

A Matisse painting that was looted by the Nazis and became part of a reclusive German collector's long-hidden treasure trove was handed over on Friday to the heirs of a Jewish art dealer.

Henri Matisse's Woman Sitting in an Armchair was one of the first two works from the vast trove of art hoarded by Cornelius Gurlitt to be returned to its rightful owners.

Lawyer Chris Marinello, who represents the heirs of Paris-based dealer Paul Rosenberg and who travelled to Munich to pick up the painting, said he was delighted with its return and hopes the German government "will act with expediency and transparency in reviewing and resolving other claims to the Gurlitt pictures."

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Mr. Gurlitt died last May, a few months after it emerged that authorities had seized some 1,400 items at his Munich apartment while investigating a tax case in 2012. Officials have been checking whether several hundred of the works were seized from their owners by the Nazis.

A Swiss museum that accepted Mr. Gurlitt's bequest of his collection and a cousin who has challenged his will both promised to ensure any looted pieces are returned to Jewish owners' heirs.

Germany's government signed restitution agreements in March for the Matisse painting and Max Liebermann's Two Riders on the Beach, which was seized from businessman David Friedmann.

A Munich court handling Mr. Gurlitt's estate formally authorized the return of the two paintings on Tuesday after both potential heirs to his collection endorsed the move. Thomas Pfaff, a spokesman for Mr. Gurlitt's cousin Uta Werner, said the Liebermann piece was returned on Wednesday.

Experts have determined that two more pieces from the Gurlitt trove – Carl Spitzweg's Couple of Musicians and Camille Pissarro's The Seine seen from the Pont-Neuf, the Louvre in the background – were looted by the Nazis.

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