Press-Republican

Z_CNHI News Service

November 12, 2013

Hundreds of works in Munich haul may be Nazi plunder

BERLIN — The German government said some 590 artworks discovered in a Munich apartment may have been looted by the Nazis from Jewish collections, and pledged to research and publish their ownership history.

Authorities seized Cornelius Gurlitt's cache of 1,406 artworks, including pieces by Max Beckmann, Pablo Picasso, Oskar Kokoschka and Max Liebermann as evidence in an investigation on suspicion of tax evasion and embezzlement in March 2012.

The government said late Monday it would put the artworks it suspects were plundered on the website lostart.de, and began by posting 25, including works by Otto Dix and Eugene Delacroix. The website was inaccessible Tuesday because of heavy traffic, a sign of the interest in Gurlitt's hoard.

"It's great news," Chris Marinello, the director of Art Recovery International, said by telephone from London. "Obviously the pressure had been mounting. This all should have been done at the beginning."

The Nazis seized hundreds of thousands of artworks from Jewish collectors as part of their policy of racial persecution. Gurlitt's father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was appointed to buy and sell art on behalf of Adolf Hitler's regime and his son probably inherited the collection.

The government will set up a task force of at least six provenance researchers led by Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, according to the joint statement from the Culture Ministry, Finance Ministry and the Bavarian government.

Jewish groups and heirs' representatives had demanded a list and voiced outrage when the Augsburg prosecutor said publishing one would be counterproductive. They also expressed frustration that provenance researcher Meike Hoffmann of Berlin's Free University was the only art historian investigating the haul since it was seized 18 months ago.

"The origin of the artworks found in Munich will be clarified with as much haste and transparency as possible," the authorities said.

Among the first artworks posted on lostart.de are a Delacroix drawing, "Moorish Conversation on a Terrace"; an 1840 drawing of musicians by Carl Spitzweg with the previous owner listed as Henri Hinrichsen, a Leipzig music publisher; a Dix portrait of a woman that once belonged to the Littmann family, and a drawing by Otto Griebel previously owned by a Dresden lawyer, Fritz Salo Glaser.

"We have a great deal of understanding for the fact that representatives of Jewish organizations are asking lots of questions," Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, said earlier at a government news conference. "They represent some very elderly people, who experienced, or whose forefathers experienced, terrible injustices."

About 970 works altogether may have been seized by the Nazis, the ministries said. The researchers will also examine the provenance of about 380 artworks possibly seized from German museums as "degenerate art," they said.

Prosecutors projected a handful of the works in Gurlitt's collection onto a screen at a press conference last week. The heirs of David Friedmann, a Jewish businessman who died in 1943, recognized "Riders on the Beach" by Max Liebermann as an artwork they have been seeking for years, and registered their claim with the prosecutor.

The heirs of Paul Rosenberg identified a Matisse painting they say belonged to the family and have requested its return.

"We are ready to talk about restitution," said Marinello, who is representing Rosenberg's heirs. "I am waiting to be invited to a meeting to discuss what to do next."

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Grandstands feel a little empty at NASCAR races

    Two decades after NASCAR started running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crowds have thinned considerably. It's probably no reflection on the sport's massive following, which stretches from coast to coast, but it surely doesn't NASCAR's image help when the cameras pan across all of those empty seats.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • Rodden, Danny.jpg Sheriff accused of lying about relationship with prostitute

    The sheriff of Clark County, Ind., faces an eight-count federal indictment that accuses him of lying about paying a prostitute for a sex act and giving her a badge so that she could claim a discount rate at a hotel.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo