Dame Helen Mirren has urged US lawmakers to help more Jewish families recover stolen artwork taken by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The acclaimed British actress – who starred as a Jewish woman fighting to reclaim her family’s stolen art in the 2015 film, Woman In Gold – appeared yesterday (Tuesday) before the Senate as part of a hearing relating to the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act.
If passed through, the act would reset the statute of limitations and give claimants up to six years to provide evidence of ownership.
Speaking at Capitol Hill, Mirren said: “It is a terribly sad fact that more than 70 years later, victims of the Holocaust and their families are still contemplating whether to seek restitution for what was stolen from them and lost under the most horrible of circumstances.”
She related her knowledge of the subject to her portrayal of Jewish refugee Maria Altmann in the critically-acclaimed Woman in Gold.
The film tracks the story of Altmann’s battle with the Austrian government to reclaim paintings by Gustav Klimt, taken by the Nazis from her family during the Second World War.
These included the famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, also known as Woman in Gold, which is an oil and gold painting of Altmann’s aunt.
After successfully reclaiming the artwork, Altmann sold it for a record-breaking $135million in 2006.
Mirren added: “It was the journey of playing Maria that made the absolute reality of those days so relevant to me today at this moment in time.
“The very act of Nazi expropriation was not only unjust, it was unconscionably inhumane.”