It’s five years since authorities in Germany uncovered around 1500 works of art held by Cornelius Gurlitt, then aged 79. He’d inherited the work – by artists ranging from Old Masters to Picasso – from his father, an art-dealer who worked with the Nazis to acquire valuable artworks from Jewish families. Now exhibitions in Germany and in Switzerland are putting highlights on display, in the hope of alerting descendants who may be the rightful owners.
Gurlitt suddenly came to public notice in 2013, the German authorities had already known for a year that an astounding hoard of artwork had been found at his addresses in Munich and in Salzburg. The artists ranged from Picasso to Durer and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Initially, officials tried to keep the discovery secret. After all, Gurlitt appeared to have broken no laws. But a news magazine got hold of the story.
The collection had been inherited from Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand, a major art dealer who died in 1956. Hildebrand served Germany’s Nazi leadership in three ways: he helped acquire important works from Jewish families at prices well below their true value; he sold examples of so-called “degenerate art” abroad; he was involved in assembling pieces for the grand “Fuhrer Museum” planned for Linz in Austria.
Monet and Picasso works are among a hoard of paintings whose rightful owners are being sought. Read more….