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Swiss Museum Will Take ‘Nazi’ Art Hoard

The Swiss art gallery named as the sole heir of reclusive German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt is to accept his bequest of masterpieces which include works looted by the Nazis from Jews, a Swiss paper reported on Sunday.

Gurlitt, who died in May aged 81, had secretly stored hundreds of works by the likes of Chagall and Picasso at his Munich apartment and a house in nearby Salzburg, Austria.

The collection, worth an estimated 1 billion euros (1.26 billion US dollars), contains an as yet undetermined number of works taken by the Nazis from their Jewish owners during World War Two.

The Berne Art Museum will accept the bequest, but only pieces for which restitution claims can be ruled out will come to Berne, the Sonntagszeitung reported.

“According to well informed sources, the meeting of the museum’s board of trustees on November 26 will just sign off on the already detailed agreement,” the paper wrote.

A spokeswoman for the museum said it was still in talks with Germany and the German state of Bavaria, and that “current speculation” about the collection was to a significant extent inaccurate.

“The talks are proceeding constructively, but are not yet concluded,” she said. “In light of this, it is unnecessary to comment on the speculation, which is in significant parts incorrect.”

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