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Major Nazi-Looted Art Collection to be Returned

Germany recluse’s hidden stash includes work by Monet, Renoir, and Matisse

Hannah Dreyfus
March 27, 2014
(Photograph of the painting "Sitting Woman," by Henri Matisse)

(Photograph of the painting “Sitting Woman,” by Henri Matisse)

A trove of Nazi-looted artwork worth more than $1 billion found in the homes of Cornelius Gurlitt will be returned to the heirs of its rightful owners, Reuters reports. Authorities found the stolen collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures while investigating Gurlitt on suspicion of tax evasion in February 2012. They raided his Munich apartment and discovered part of the massive collection, which includes more than 238 pieces of artwork in total.

Gurlitt wants to “return all (artworks) that have been stolen or robbed from Jewish ownership to each of their owners or descendants,” lawyer Christoph Edel was quoted as saying on Wednesday by Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Just last month, though, Gurlitt and his legal team filed a formal complaint against the seizure of the collection.

Gurlitt’s father amassed the collection, having been reportedly ordered by Hitler acquire and sell the “degenerate art” in order to help finance Nazi activities. He kept the stolen work, eventually passing the collection on to his son.

The latest 180 works of art discovered at Gurlitt’s home in Salzberg, Austria, include a Claude Monet oil painting believed to be worth around $10 million, Austrian TV reported. Monet’s 1903 painting of London’s Tower Bridge, long believed to be missing, was also found amidst the collection. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Renoir and drawings by Gauguin, Cezanne and Picasso were discovered as well.

“Sitting Woman” by Henri Matisse is the first work to be returned to the heirs of its rightful owner, Paul Rosenberg, a Paris-based Jewish art collector.

Hannah Dreyfus is an editorial intern at Tablet.