Cornelius Gurlitt, Germany reach agreement on suspected looted art

Art believed to have been stolen by the Nazis was discovered in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich's Schwabing district.
(Christof Stache / AFP/Getty Images)

Cornelius Gurlitt, the German man who had been hiding more than 1,000 works of art -- some believed to have been looted during World War II -- has reached an agreement with German officials regarding his secret stash.

The two sides issued a statement Monday saying that Gurlitt would cooperate with authorities to determine which of the pieces he’s holding had been seized by Nazi forces. Gurlitt has agreed to return art that is linked to Nazi looting and will keep pieces that are not. A copy of the announcement was posted Monday on Gurlitt’s official website.

Gurlitt’s stash -- now being called the Schwabing Art Trove after the part of Munich where it was found -- is believed to have been acquired at least in part by his father, Hildebrand, an art expert employed by the Third Reich.


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The trove contains works on paper, paintings and other items by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Gustave Courbet, Max Beckmann and Albrecht Dürer.

A Henri Matisse painting in the collection already has become the subject of legal wrangling. Descendants of the French art dealer Paul Rosenberg have said they own the piece, which depicts a woman sitting in an armchair, but a rival claim has been filed, according to reports.

The task force that is researching the provenance of the artwork is aiming to complete its work in a year, according to the Monday announcement.

Gurlitt and his art trove were the subject of a segment on Sunday’s broadcast of “60 Minutes” on CBS.

German authorities seized the works of art in 2012 from Gurlitt’s Munich apartment. Officials kept the raid secret, but a 2013 article in the German magazine Focus revealed the stash to the public.


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