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|04-11-2013, 10:38 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Last Online: 20-06-2014 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
£1bn Art Treasure Found In Germany
A remarkable secret trove of paintings worth nearly £1billion, seized by the Nazis in the 1930s and thought to have been destroyed in the war, has been found – hidden behind tins of rotting food in a shabby flat.
The 1,500 works by such masters as Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and Chagall were said to have been lost to the flames when Allied aircraft bombed Dresden in 1945.
They had been taken from their owners, many of them Jewish, by the Nazis, who regarded the Impressionist, Cubist and Modernist pieces as ‘degenerate’, and never seen again.
Their astonishing rediscovery nearly 70 years on in a rundown apartment in Munich came about because of a chance customs inspection of a man returning to Germany by train from Switzerland.
The man turned out to be Cornelius Gurlitt – the reclusive son of Hildebrandt Gurlitt, the art dealer who in the run-up to the Second World War had been in charge of gathering up the so-called degenerate art for the Nazis.
Cornelius was not registered with the German authorities, had never worked and had no apparent source of income, raising suspicions among investigators who then uncovered the art cache hidden behind years-old tins of noodles, beans and fruit in his decrepit flat.
His father had bought for a pittance many of the paintings he seized, and they had passed to his son on his death. Cornelius then quietly sold a few, one at a time, to give him money to live on.
The works – sketches, oil paintings, charcoals, lithographs and watercolours – have not been publicly identified by investigators, who are working to reunite them with the families of their rightful owners.
But one painting is known to have been The Lion Tamer, by German artist Max Beckmann. Cornelius sold it through an auction house for nearly £750,000 shortly before the collection was seized.
Another is a portrait of a woman by the French master Matisse that belonged to the Jewish connoisseur Paul Rosenberg.
Rosenberg had to abandon his collection as he fled Paris when France fell to the Nazis in 1940. His granddaughter Anne Sinclair, wife of disgraced former IMF bank chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been fighting for decades for the return of her grandfather’s pictures, but is said to have not known of the existence of this painting.
Other works discovered in the flat in the Munich suburb of Schwabing are by noted artists such as Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Otto Dix, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Liebermann.
In the words of a spokesman for German customs: ‘This is a sensational find. A true treasure trove. It is an incredible story.’
A story which begins one evening in September 2010 aboard a German Intercity Express train from Zurich in Switzerland to Munich.
Customs officials were carrying out a routine check on passengers – many wealthy Germans deposit money illegally in Switzerland to evade high tax rates at home – and asked for the papers of a white-haired man.
He proffered an Austrian passport in the name of Rolf Nikolaus Cornelius Gurlitt, born December 28, 1933, in Hamburg and currently residing in Salzburg.
‘He appeared nervous,’ said customs officials. He said he had travelled to Switzerland for ‘business’ at the Galerie Kornfeld in Bern.
He then he pulled out an envelope with 9,000 euros in 500 euro notes inside – 1,000euros under the legal limit which must declared to officials when crossing borders in Europe.
Gurlitt was allowed to go on his way, but the officials remained suspicious.
Extensive checks soon disclosed that he did not live in Salzburg but in Schwabing, but he was not registered with the police – mandatory in Germany – the tax authorities or social services. He drew no pension and had no health insurance.
‘He was a man who didn’t exist,’ one official told Germany’s Focus magazine, which broke the story.
Investigators applied for a warrant to search behind the barred windows of his £600-a-month rented flat, eventually entering it in spring 2011.
There they discovered a mountain of tinned and bottled food, long past its sell-by date. Behind the decomposing food were found the missing artworks.
A customs official said: ‘We went into the apartment expecting to find a few thousand undeclared euros, maybe a black bank account.
‘But we were stunned with what we found. From floor to ceiling, from bedroom to bathroom, were piles and piles of old food in tins and old noodles, much of it from the 1980s.
And behind it all these pictures. They are worth over a billion euros [over £850million] we are told, but the real worth is inestimable. They are treasures.’
Treasures they may be, but the provincial-minded Nazi hierarchy despised them and termed them ‘degenerate’.
Hitler liked only romantic paintings that idolised his vision of German supermen. He and his propaganda minister Josef Goebbels ordered the seizure of some 20,000‘degenerate’ works by artists including Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Van Gogh.
Discovered: Billion-pound art collection seized by the Nazis and ordered to be destroyed discovered behind rotting food in a dishevelled Munich apartment | Mail Online
Guess who's the potential heir of all that wealth. Remember him? His wife.
|05-11-2013, 03:01 AM||#2 (permalink)|
Last Online: 17-12-2014 02:00 AM
Join Date: Dec 2012
It took them over 2 years to disclose this discovery,as they are expecting an avalanche of claims on the paintings. Try sort that one out,families have multiplied since then,so how many cousins are there to a claim. Lawyers are going to make money out of this.
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