Recluse Who Held Trove of Nazi Art Has Vanished

Prosecutor says officials don't know where Cornelius Gurlitt is right now

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 5, 2013 6:35 AM CST | Updated Nov 5, 2013 7:15 AM CST

(Newser) – Yesterday came the news that German tax inspectors investigating an elderly loner in 2011 uncovered a stash of Nazi-looted art believed to be worth $1.35 billion. Today comes the details: The BBC reports the total haul recovered from Cornelius Gurlitt's Munich apartment was 1,258 unframed works and 121 framed ones, and they're in fairly extraordinary condition, with no damage beyond a layer of dirt. In that group are a number of works that were previously unknown, by greats such as Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. But that's not the only thing that's unknown. The head of the Augsburg state prosecutor's office says they don't know where the 80-year-old is right now, and, further, "We don't have any strong suspicion of a crime that would justify an arrest."

Bloomberg reports that Gurlitt made only infrequent visits to the apartment, which the New York Times reports was targeted following an exchange between Gurlitt and customs officials in September 2010. They found him holding $12,150 in €500 notes while on a train arriving from Switzerland, which they found suspicious. The Guardian reports that Gurlitt was present when authorities descended on his flat in the spring of 2011, but that neighbors haven't seen him since August. (Click for more on the squalid apartment where the works were stored.)

Cars are parked outside the apartment building in Munich, Germany, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, where 1,500 artworks were found.
Cars are parked outside the apartment building in Munich, Germany, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, where 1,500 artworks were found.   (AP Photo/dpa, Marc Mueller)
A painting of Marc Chagall is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the art found in Munich.
A painting of Marc Chagall is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the art found in Munich.   (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
A painting from Henry Matisse Sitzende Frau (Sitting Woman) is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
A painting from Henry Matisse "Sitzende Frau" ("Sitting Woman") is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
An artwork of Antonio Canaletto is shown on a computer screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the art found in Munich.
An artwork of Antonio Canaletto is shown on a computer screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the art found in Munich.   (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)
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