Thursday 8 May 2014

Gurlitt dies, hoarded art works remain

Earlier this week the BBC reported the death of Cornelius Gurlitt, the German art hoarder.

A beach scene by German impressionist Max
Liebermann was one of the important discoveries
At presents, says the BBC, there is no definitive answer on what will happen to Gurlitt's secret collection, which included many Nazi-looted pieces. More than 1,400 works were found in his Munich apartment, including pieces by Picasso and Matisse. Many were feared lost or destroyed before tax investigators uncovered his priceless collection in 2012.

Gurlitt, the son of Adolf Hitler's art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, was ordered to deal in works that had been seized from Jews, or which the Nazis considered "degenerate" and which had been removed from German museums. After initially refusing to cooperate with the authorities, he agreed to return works if it could be proved that they had been stolen.

Presumably an ancillary question remains as to the copyright in these works and as to who might be entitled to any proceeds of sale in respect of their commercial exploitation, a matter on which we can at present only speculate.

1 comment:

john r walker said...

Is there an estimate as to what percentage of the 1,400 works were taken from museums and other public collections? I would have thought that these institutions (if they still exist) would have a good claim for the return of those works,no?