'Nazi art' hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, 81, dies

‘Nazi art’ hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, 81, dies


German art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, whose secret collection included many Nazi-looted pieces, has died aged 81.
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.
Cornelius Gurlitt, who had been seriously ill after heart surgery, was the son of Adolf Hitler’s art dealer, Hildebrand Gurlitt.Last month, he reached a deal with the German authorities: he said he would co-operate with authorities to determine which of the paintings were stolen by Nazis during World War Two.
Those which could be shown to have been stolen, he would return; the rest, he would keep.
Mr Gurlitt did not live an extravagant life but would sell a painting only when he needed money.
Investigators found more than 1,400 works in his flat in Munich in February 2012, and a further 60 in his house near Salzburg, Austria, earlier this year.
Among them were works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde and Max Liebermann.
The collection is estimated to be worth up to a billion euros (£850m; $1.35bn).
Under German law, Cornelius Gurlitt was not compelled to return any paintings to their owners, as he was protected by a statute of limitations, which negates any claim for incidents that happened more than 30 years ago.
Even if it was proved the works were looted by the Nazis, Mr Gurlitt could have kept them, the BBC’s arts editor Will Gompertz says.
But his death will certainly have ramifications for the case.
Mr Gurlitt’s secretive nature means little is known of his private life or any possible heirs.
And the Bavarian authorities’ slow, bureaucratic response to the discovery thus far would suggest that a rapid resolution of outstanding claims is unlikely, our editor adds. – BBC Entertainment


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