$1.3B of Nazi-Seized Art Found in Squalid Apartment

Dealer's son sat on huge stash for decades in Munich

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 4, 2013 12:32 AM CST | Updated Nov 4, 2013 5:45 AM CST

(Newser) – German tax inspectors investigating an elderly loner were staggered to find a cache of 1,500 masterpieces stashed amid expired cans of food in the man's squalid Munich apartment. The art—believed to include works by Matisse, Picasso, and Chagall—was confiscated by Nazi authorities or bought for rock-bottom prices from desperate Jewish owners in the 1930s and '40s, the BBC reports. The 80-year-old man being investigated was the son of art dealer Cornelius Gurlitt, who had helped the Nazis gather up so-called "degenerate" art.

Until his death in 1956, Gurlitt had insisted the artworks had been destroyed in a 1945 bombing raid on Dresden. His reclusive son is believed to have hoarded the artworks for at least 50 years, occasionally selling one when he needed money. German authorities discovered the trove, thought to be worth at least $1.35 billion, two years ago, but it is only being made public now; authorities can expect a huge flood of claims from the descendants of the art's former owners, the Guardian notes.

Joseph Goebbels visits an exhibition of "degenerate art" in 1938.   (Bundesarchiv)
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