Press-Republican

Community News Network

November 4, 2013

Hundreds of artworks by Picasso, Chagall, others may have been seized by Nazis

BERLIN — A Berlin art historian is helping prosecutors investigate a trove of 1,500 artworks that may have seized by the Nazis, which has been found in Munich.

Berlin Free University said in an e-mailed statement Monday that the inquiry is led by Meike Hoffmann of its degenerate art research unit.

The artworks, estimated to be worth 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) if confirmed, were found in a squalid Munich apartment after a random check on an elderly man traveling from Switzerland to Munich by authorities cracking down on money- laundering prompted further investigation, according to a report in the German magazine Focus. The raid took place in secret two years ago, according to magazine, which didn't say how it obtained the information.

"This is extraordinarily significant, if confirmed," Monika Tatzkow, a provenance researcher and author of several books on Nazi-looted art, said in an interview from Berlin Monday. "The number of works is overwhelming. It shows that a lot of time has to pass for some of this art to emerge from shady sources."

German customs officials recovered about 1,500 works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann and Marc Chagall long thought lost or destroyed, Focus said. The German government said it a statement Monday that it was aware of the case.

"Dr. Hoffmann has been assigned with the task of identifying the works by the Augsburg prosecutor," the release said. "This is an ongoing investigation and we ask for your understanding that the scholar at the Free University can give no information at this time," it said.

The investigators unearthed the paintings, sketches and prints, which were buried among outdated packets of food and rubbish, two years ago in the apartment of a man reported to be the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, a prominent art dealer in the 1930s and 1940s with ties to the Nazis, according to Focus report.

Customs authorities in Munich and prosecutors in the city of Augsburg declined to comment on the report, citing confidentiality rules. Berlin art historian Meike Hoffmann is trying to establish the origin and value of the works, Focus reported. Hoffmann couldn't be reached for comment.

"As important a story is why have the Bavarian authorities been sitting on them for two years," said Anne Webber, co-Chair of the Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a London-based organization which helps families recover art seized by the Nazis. "Bavaria needs to publish a list of these works as soon as possible."

The works include a painting titled "Portrait of a Lady" by Henri Matisse that once belonged to Jewish art collector Paul Rosenberg, Focus said.

Rosenberg, whose granddaughter is Anne Sinclair, the estranged wife of former International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to leave his collection behind when he fled the Nazis, Focus said. Gurlitt kept the artworks and sold some as a source of income over the years, the magazine reported.

Works by Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Liebermann and Albrecht Duerer were also discovered in the raid, it said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo