Munich art find remains in the dark

Munich art find remains in the dark

The sensational art find at the son of an art dealer in munich remains full of riddles. Who the more than 1400 paintings originally belonged to, how they came into the possession of the art dealer hildebrand gurlitt, where his 79-year-old son cornelius is today – all this remained open even after the press conference of the augsburg public prosecutor’s office and the art historian meike hoffmann from berlin on tuesday. The central council of jews now calls for a tangible clarification.

"Speculations do not help here. What is important now is transparency and a drafty process", central council president dieter graumann told the "passauer neue presse" (WEDNESDAY.). "After all, this is about heirs of once robbed jewish collectors, who could now experience late justice, in that the belongings of their family come back into their, the rightful, possession."

Chief public prosecutor reinhard nemetz, on the other hand, had declared: "the investigation has priority, i cannot speculate about who could be the owner of any of the things"." Whoever believes to have a claim to a work, is welcome to contact us. And cornelius gurlitt’s whereabouts are unclear: "i don’t know where he is, because this question doesn’t concern us at all", said nemetz.

Like the suddeutsche zeitung (wednesday) reported, some works of art were apparently confiscated by the allies after the end of the war and kept in storage from 1945 to 1950. The paper referred to protocols available to it, which the allies made of the interrogations of hildebrand gurlitt about his role as a privileged art dealer in the third reich.

A list attached to these minutes thus provides information about his private collection of more than one hundred individual works, which at that time had been taken over by the americans in was stored in wiesbaden. It seems that some of the works presented in augsburg also appear on this list. Hildebrand gurlitt demanded the works back from the allies with success, he cut it off. Except for two paintings, his alleged private collection was returned to him in 1950.

Customs investigators suspected gurlitt’s son of tax evasion, and during a house search discovered and confiscated his collection of priceless works. That was in february 2012 – but only after a report in the magazine "focus" the authorities have now made the sensation public.

But not even the list of works is published. Investigation against cornelius gurlitt not yet completed, prosecutors say. He is accused of embezzlement and tax crimes. The collection includes works by picasso, chagall, nolde and beckmann, but also by older painters such as durer, spitzweg, renoir and toulouse-lautrec.

It is unclear which works of art were confiscated by the nazis as so-called degenerate art in museums, galleries or from collectors and handed over for sale to the art dealer and collector hildebrand gurlitt, and which gurlitt himself had bought before or after 1945. Some of the art objects from the collection have been designated as destroyed or bewitched, others were previously unknown, the public prosecutor’s office said.

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