Germany has negotiated a secret deal with the descendants of a Nazi soldier to hand back a €2 million (£1.8 million) painting said to have been stolen from the Uffizi Galleries in Florence during the Second World War.
The painting, Vase of Flowers, by the 18th century Dutch artist Jan van Huysum, was looted in 1944 and is currently in the hands of an undisclosed German family.
In January, the director of the Uffizi Galleries Eike Schmidt, who is German himself, said Berlin had a moral duty to give back the painting.
To raise the profile of the case, Dr Schimdt hung a black-and-white photograph of the painting in Florence’s Palazzo Pitti, where the original was once kept, with a caption explaining that it was stolen by the Germans.
The unidentified family had reportedly demanded up to €2m for the painting, while the German authorities had said the statute of limitations on crimes more than 30 years old prevented it from intervening.
After Dr Schmidt’s public call for the painting’s return, the German government contacted the family who hold it.
On Saturday Berlin announced that Heiko Maas, the German foreign minister, and his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero will travel to Florence soon to hand the artwork back to the gallery.