The forensic approach is the most effective, albeit laborious, method by which a plundered object can be reunited with its rightful owner. Or, at the very least, it is the best way to get closest to the historical truth.
Case in point: those myriad objects of art which remain in the custody of the French government under the odd label of "Musées Nationaux Récupération" (MNR). We are grateful to the French Ministry of Culture for having posted a number of these objects on their website under the label “Site Rose Valland-Musées Nationaux Récupération.” The key, however, is to interpret what you see and read.
Source: Site Rose Valland/MNR
The rightful owner of this statue is Marcel Kapferer. The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) stole it from his apartment in Paris in February 1944 together with 30 other works and objects. The statuette was shipped on 5 May 1944 to Nikolsburg in the former Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. The Germans transferred it with many other looted cultural assets to a depot in Austria, most likely at Altaussee where US forces found it. It arrived in Munich on 3 November 1945 and was labeled 13741/3 until its repatriation to France a year later.
Source: ERR Project via Bundesarchiv
If you follow the logic of the German documentation, this statuette, labeled KPR 9, was repatriated to France on 30 October 1946 from the Munich Central Collecting Point (MCCP). Hence, no need to worry, right? Wrong!
Source: ERR Project via NARA
For those who remain skeptical that this item might have been restituted to Marcel Kapferer, a photographic comparison of the object in the MNR database with the photos taken by the ERR indicates that we might be dealing with the same object. You be the judge!
Source: MCCP Database via Bundesarchiv