Another 60 works of rare, probably stolen art have been discovered in a German Nazi collection , adding even more valuable pieces by Picasso, Renoir, and Monet to a nearly 1,500-piece-strong treasure trove.
Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a German, Nazi-era art dealer made headlines in 2013 when reports emerged that he had been hoarding an estimated $1.35 billion worth of precious works of art in an apartment in Austria, most of it stolen by Nazis during World War II. Gurlitt's neglected treasure trove was discovered when officials looked into his assets as part of a tax evasion probe in 2011.
A spokesman for Gurlitt said that there was no reason to believe that the new pieces were Nazi loot, art stolen or forcefully purchased from Jewish art dealers or owners during Hitler's fascist regime in a statement, adding that "At the request of Cornelius Gurlitt, the works are being examined by experts on whether they include possibly stolen art." The additional works were reportedly found in Gurlitt's second home in Salzburg, Austria.
Of the 1,406 works seized, nearly 600 are being investigated as possibly having been Nazi loot. Gurlitt, who lived alone, was devastated when all of the pieces were seized. 'What kind of a state is it that confiscates my private property?" he said, adding, "they must be returned to me." Last month, however, he reached out to Jewish families and indicated that he is open to negotiations.
The German government was criticized for waiting so long to announce the discovery of the hidden trove, especially by Jewish groups seeking reparations. Last month, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called on Germany to make a greater effort to return stolen art to its Jewish heirs. Modern art, considered "degenerate" by the regime, was collected from Jewish dealers and others and either destroyed or sold by Nazi-appointed dealers, like Cornelius's father Hildebrand (who was himself part-Jewish). Lauder refers to the stolen works as "the last prisoners of World War II," and demands that stolen art be removed from German museums and seized from private owners.
Germany, for its part, says it intends to double funding for the search of stolen art, currently at about $19.7 million. Germany's top cultural affairs official, Monica Gruetters, said she finds it "unbearable that there is still Nazi-looted art in German museums." Images of many of the works seized from Gurlitt's home have been uploaded to the German Lost Art website, where Jewish families can comb through images and reach out if they identify any as belonging to them.
Coincidentally, the new discovery comes just days after the lackluster premier of Monuments Men, a movie about U.S. soldiers tasked with saving "degenerate" art from art-hating Nazis.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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