Looted Nazi Art Hoarder To Discuss Returning $1.3B Trove

Reclusive Munich Collector Claims 'Very Few' Stolen

getty images

By JTA

Published January 27, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Cornelius Gurlitt, whose hidden collection of classic artworks stunned the world last fall, has signaled he may be ready to talk about restituting some works to their rightful heirs.

Attorney Hannes Hartung told The Wall Street Journal Jan. 24 that: “We want to take responsibility.” But he added that “very few” of the 1,400 works in the collection might be described as looted.

More than 1,400 works were confiscated from Gurlitt nearly two years ago in the course of an investigation for tax evasion. But the public did not learn of the find until last fall, when the German Focus magazine broke the news.

Most of the works had been procured by his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a collector and dealer commissioned by the Nazis to buy art for its museums, as well as art that it considered “degenerate,” that could be sold with profits going to the Nazi government.

Under pressure from restitution organizations, heirs and attorneys, the state prosecutor in Augsburg has provided photos and descriptions of hundreds of works of questionable provenance for publication on the website of Germany’s provenance-research authority, www.lostart.de.

In addition, a task force has been established to research the provenance of all works in the collection.

In related news, Pia Müller-Tamm, director of the Karlsruhe City Museum, announced last week that Hildebrand Gurlitt had confiscated 149 works from that museum as so-called “degenerate art,” particularly prints. According to news reports, she did not know whether the works were among those in the rediscovered collection, and thus cannot yet demand their restitution.

The city of Mannheim has already claimed a painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, “Melancholy Maid.”

At least 300 paintings reportedly are to be returned to Cornelius Gurlitt himself, particularly works by a relative.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.