1st Verdict on Gurlitt art

News | Vienna Review | December 2013 / January 2014

German prosecutors have announced that Cornelius Gurlitt rightfully owns several hundred paintings of the recently discovered Munich treasure trove of art.

Until they were confiscated in February 2012, Gurlitt lived in solitude amongst the 1,406 masterworks.

Including paintings by Picasso, Chagall and Matisse, 970 of the paintings are still under investigation to establish provenance. Experts have estimated the value of the collection at €1 billion.

The high value of the collection has made returning the works to Gurlitt even more precarious, since his apartment will no longer be safe from thieves.

His father, the collector Hildebrand Gurlitt, was one of four people authorized to trade in "degenerate-art" during the Second World War.

The decision to return the works deemed to be in Cornelius Gurlitt’s legitimate possession has provoked a critical reaction from the World Jewish Council.

According to The Irish Times, the Council would like to see a German federal commission established, to examine the origin of all public and private art collections.

It is also reported that the German authorities made an offer to drop tax evasion charges against Gurlitt if he would relinquish the ownership of his father’s collection.

The offer was refused.

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