Hoarder of Nazi-Seized Art Tracked Down

Germany under pressure over $1.3B trove

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 11, 2013 2:40 AM CST

(Newser) – The reclusive German who sat on a $1.3 billion stash of Nazi-seized art for decades has been tracked down by reporters—but Cornelius Gurlitt isn't talking. "Approval that comes from the wrong side is the worst thing that could happen," the 79-year-old son of a leading Nazi-era art dealer told reporters who asked him for an interview. Unlike the prosecutor's office, the journalists were able to find him at his Munich address, the Guardian reports. In a town near Stuttgart, meanwhile, police have recovered another 22 artworks from the home of Gurlitt's brother-in-law.

The discovery of the 1,400 artworks—labeled "degenerate art" by the Nazis and confiscated from museums and Jewish owners—is still making waves in the art world, and Germany is coming under pressure to do more to reunite the art with its rightful owners or their descendants, the New York Times finds. The history and legal status of the artworks is still being probed. Some of it is believed to have passed through Allied hands before being returned to the elder Gurlitt, who died in a car crash in 1956. Records unearthed by the Bild show Gurlitt arranged a deal with Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels in 1940 to pay 4,000 Swiss francs for 200 pieces of "degenerate art."

The 1,400 artworks languished for decades in this Munich apartment block.   (AP Photo/dpa, Marc Mueller)
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