Monday 4 November 2013

A Nazi-looted art trove of 1,500 masterpieces was discovered in Munich

A treasure trove worth around 1 million dollars has been recently found in an apartment in Munich.

The trove includes masterpieces of Picasso, Henri Matisse, Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall. Other works among the 1,500 discovered were by Otto Dix, Franc Marc, Emil Nolde, Oskar Kokoshka and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

The trove was found by German tax authorities while they were investigating on the possible tax evasion of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of the art dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt. The tax authorities went into Gurlitt's apartment, where they expected to find few undeclared euros, but they discovered piles and piles of old food in every room of the house and behind these walls of food the trove was incredibly hidden.

Hildebrant Gurlitt was a well-known art historian during the Nazi era, who was tasked by the SS official Goebbels to sell the so-called “degenerate” artworks seized by the Hitler's government. Nazi regime seized around 20,000 works before the Second World War and many of them were shown during the "Degenerate Art" exhibition, which took place in Munich in 1937.

Indeed, many masterpieces were found "ungerman" by the Nazi regime: Hitler loved only classical art. Therefore, these masterpieces were seized, stolen from collectors - many of them Jewish. Jewish collectors were also forced to sell “degenerate” works of art at a very low price to art dealers, in order to purchase expensive visas to flee from Germany.

The recovered works are currently stocked by the Bavarian customs in Garching near Munich and a team of art experts is trying to find the rightful owners' heirs. One painting is said to be a Matisse's portrait of a woman previously belonging to the famous jewish collector Paul Rosenberg.

Source: The Guardian, 3 November 2013

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