Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Jewish advocates urge publication of art trove

SECOND STASH:The latest batch of art treasures found in the home of a German recluse must be publicized, as they could be Nazi loot, Jewish rights groups said


Jewish advocates on Thursday called for the publication of newly found artworks at the Austrian home of an elderly German recluse whose main collection is suspected to include Nazi-looted works.

Aside from 1,400 paintings and drawings found in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, another 60 pieces including works by Claude Monet, Edouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir surfaced in Salzburg, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

A list of the latest batch of masterpieces in Gurlitt’s possession “must be made public,” in an effort to find the rightful owners or their heirs, according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, known as the Claims Conference.

“The prerequisite for any restitution is the publication. Otherwise survivors and their families cannot register claims,” the Holocaust restitution organization added.

Gurlitt’s spokesman Stephan Holzinger swiftly rejected the request, having said that an initial analysis appeared to rule out that any of the works were stolen or extorted by the fascist regime.

“It’s a private collection,” Holzinger said. “If one were to follow that logic, all the collections in Germany would have to be published.”

Asked about the value of the Salzburg find, Holzinger said the “objects are largely oil [paintings], on average of greater value than those discovered in Munich,” which included many drawings.

The Claims Conference highlighted that Gurlitt, 81, was the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, “one of four art dealers commissioned by Adolf Hitler to handle stolen art.”

“Therefore the origins of his inheritance should be checked,” the statement quoted Ruediger Mahlo, the Claims Conference’s representative in Germany, as saying. “The victims of the Holocaust and their heirs have a right to that.”

The Gurlitt case first made headlines late last year when it emerged that investigators had in 2012 found more than 1,400 artworks in his Munich flat, including long-lost works by masters Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.

A research task force has since said that about 590 of the works are suspected to have been looted or bought cheaply under duress from Jewish collectors.

“For the moment we’re examining the Salzburg collection ourselves” to see if it contains stolen art, Holzinger said, adding that they would get in touch with possible interested parties.

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