A Portion of Cornelius Gurlitt’s Collection Will Be Returned

Cornelius Gurlitt's Munich apartment.
The trove was found in Cornelius Gurlitt's Munich apartment in 2012.

The German art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, whose vast collection of works was seized from his Munich apartment and a home in Salzburg, is getting set to start relinquishing his hold on pieces with a clear Nazi provenance. According to a release on Gurlitt’s website, a piece that has been claimed as Nazi loot will be returned, with more restitutions on the horizon.

“We are about to return a work from the Schwabing portion of the collection that is justifiably suspected of being looted art,” Gurlitt’s new attorney, Christoph Edel, said in a statement—the same release includes news of the dismissal of Dr. Hannes Hartung, Gurlitt’s former attorney. “Discussions with other claimants have been constructive as well, and we expect to be returning additional works in the coming weeks.”

The lawyer goes on to explain that the Gurlitt team is working on a consistent restitution policy to govern future Nazi loot claims.

“Moreover, we are currently working on a restitution policy based on the Washington principles that we will rely on in the future as a reasonable and uniform basis for negotiating with claimants,” Edel says. “We will apply it just as consistently in cases that likely involve looted art as in those cases that are less clear or not clear at all.”

The announcement also includes more details of the so-called Salzburg Collection, the works seized from Gurlitt’s home in that city, which number 238 pieces—among them 39 paintings—including works by Gauguin, Cezanne, Nolde, Manet, Renoir, and Pissaro.

Benjamin Sutton

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