|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Sunday, February 25, 2018
|German recluse Cornelius Gurlitt leaves Nazi-era art hoard to Museum of Fine Arts in Bern|
Cornelius Gurlitt's lawyer told the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern that it was the sole heir of the German's spectacular collection. Photo: Supermutz/wikipedia.org
By: Nina Larson
GENEVA (AFP).- A Swiss museum said it was shocked to learn Wednesday the son of a Nazi-era art dealer had left it a disputed hoard of priceless paintings -- some thought to have been plundered from Jews.
One day after the death of Cornelius Gurlitt aged 81, his lawyer told the Museum of Fine Arts in the western Swiss city of Bern that it was the sole heir of the German's spectacular collection.
The institution said in a statement that it was stunned by the "happy surprise" but would now wrestle with the huge legal and historical burden accompanying the artworks.
"Despite speculation in the media that Mr Gurlitt had bequeathed his collection to an art institution outside Germany, the news came like a bolt from the blue, since at no time has Mr Gurlitt had any connection with Kunstmuseum Bern," it said.
While expressing "gratitude", the museum acknowledged that the inheritance also handed it "a considerable responsibility", and raised "sensitive questions, especially of a legal and ethical nature."
It said it would now review the documentation provided to it and consult with the "appropriate authorities" to decide how to proceed.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern already boasts a valuable collection of modern masters including works by Picasso and Paul Klee.
But the inheritance will dramatically expand the breadth and quality of its holdings.
Love of his life
Gurlitt, who died Tuesday following heart surgery, had hidden a remarkable trove of 1,280 artworks including long-lost masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall in his flat in the southern German city of Munich for decades.
The eccentric recluse never married and had no children, calling his art the love of his life.
The works, whose value has been estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, were seized in February 2012 when they were discovered by chance in the course of a small-scale tax evasion investigation.
Gurlitt last month struck an accord with the German government to permit research to track down the rightful owners of pieces, including Jews whose property was stolen or extorted under the Third Reich.
Independent experts estimate that around 450 of the works are so-called Nazi-looted art.
The Bavarian state justice ministry told AFP that this review would continue and the commitment to restitution would remain binding for Gurlitt's heir.
More than 200 other paintings, sketches and sculptures were discovered in February this year in a separate home of Gurlitt's in Salzburg, Austria including works by Monet, Manet, Cezanne and Gauguin.
They are not covered by the German accord and Gurlitt's spokesman Stephan Holzinger said it was not immediately clear whether they had also been bequeathed to the Bern museum.
Gurlitt's art dealer father Hildebrand acquired most of the paintings in the 1930s and 1940s, when he was tasked by the Nazis with selling works taken from Jewish families and avant-garde art seized from German museums that the Hitler regime deemed "degenerate".
Holzinger told AFP that he did not want to "speculate" on why his client had decided to leave the collection to the museum.
However media reports said Gurlitt had been angered that the German authorities had seized his collection over a small tax claim and then dragged their feet with the investigation.
Holzinger said that a Munich court would still have to rule on whether the will was valid.
"If it is found that the Bern museum is the rightful heir, and the museum accepts this inheritance -- a key condition -- then the museum will have to contend from that moment with all legal issues including the question of restitution of looted art," he said.
The Bavarian culture ministry said it would also commission a mandatory review of whether any of the works were on the list of Germany's national heritage.
A spokesman said the ministry assumed few works if any in the collection would fall under this category and lead it to stake a claim.
Meanwhile prosecutors in Munich ordered an autopsy for Gurlitt to determine his definitive cause of death.
© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse
May 8, 2014
Sotheby's Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York achieves $219 million
For its 30th birthday: $42,000 Turner Prize shortlists filmmakers, narrator
Exhibition of gouache paintings on paper by Alexander Calder opens at Gagosian
German recluse Cornelius Gurlitt leaves Nazi-era art hoard to Museum of Fine Arts in Bern
"Strategy by Design: Games by Michael Graves" opens at the World Chess Hall of Fame
Another white glove sale for John Woodman Higgins armory collection auction
United States architect Frank Gehry wins Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts
Archaeologists find 5,600-year-old tomb and mummy predating the pharaonic First Dynasty
The Ross Art Group, Inc. holds charity event featuring artwork by musician/artist Bob Dylan
All eyes on newly authenticated Auguste Rodin in Quinn's May 17 auction in metro DC
French auction house Pierre Bergé & Associés pulls 'Mein Kampf' sale after protests
Christie's Latin American Sale is led by exceptional works from Tamayo, Torres-Garcia and Botero
'Lost' album of 19th century photos - re-discovered on a library shelf in France - soars at Sotheby's
Remains of 9/11 victims to be moved to ground zero
Centre d'art contemporain d'Ivry opens exhibition of works by Benoît-Marie Moriceau
Exhibition traces the profound influence of the Bay Area Figurative Movement on three artists
Photographs of the 1980's New York art scene on view at Collezione Maramotti
Exhibition of new works by artist Maura Bendett opens at Edward Cella Art + Architecture
Historic Arnhem Land crayon works being shown at Queensland Art Gallery
One of the oldest Cognacs tops Bonhams Whisky Sale
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago will hold their Spring Fine Art sales May 15th and 16th
Photographer and gallerist Christopher Rauschenberg opens exhibition at Laurence Miller Gallery
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- The Morgan explores the Medieval world's fascinating approach to the passage of time
2.- Experts discover hidden ancient Maya structures in Guatemala
3.- Egyptian archaeologists unveil tomb of Old Kingdom priestess Hetpet
4.- The Speed Art Museum and Italian Ministry reach loan agreement on ancient calyx-krater
5.- Major exhibition features artistic masterpieces from the glorious Church of the Gesù
6.- From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online
7.- Truck damages Peru's ancient Nazca lines
8.- Trish Duebber is new Coordinator of Youth Programs at Boca Raton Museum Art School
9.- Exhibition examines the way art, like language, was used to articulate a rhetoric of exclusion
10.- The Dallas Museum of Art announces gift of three major European works
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.