Gurlitt Heirs Pledge to Restitute Looted Art
Alleged hoarder of Nazi looted art, Cornelius Gurlitt, has bequeathed his highly controversial collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern. Should the museum not accept it, the legal heirs to the art trove – Gurlitt’s cousins Uta Werner and her brother Dietrich Gurlitt – would return all looted worlds to their rightful owners or heirs, Monopol has reported.
The Munich based lawyer Wolfgang Seybold, who represents several Gurlitt family members, told Monopol that the siblings, whose mother was Jewish, suffered under the Nazi regime. They have consequently pledged to give the Nazi looted works back “to their former owners, or their heirs immediately and without reimbursement.”
There are approximately 460 pieces of so-called degenerate modern German art that were confiscated from museums and later acquired by Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand. Seybold added that the remainder of the collection would go “on permanent display in a German museum.”
Some commentators and Jewish groups had feared that Gurlitt’s family would not restitute the artworks if the Kunstmuseum Bern decides against accepting the collection. That is due to the fact that the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art doesn’t technically mandate individuals to reach a compromise or to fully restitute looted or confiscated artworks to their rightful heirs. Institutions are, however, more strictly regulated by the accord.
The president of the World Jewish Congress Ronald Lauder recently contended that the Kunstmuseum Bern would be opening itself up to “an avalanche of lawsuits” by heirs to the looted artworks should they accept the Gurlitt collection (see “Ronald Lauder Warns of Lawsuit “Avalanche” over Gurlitt Collection“). The museum is due to announce its decision on November 26, though it was previously rumored that they had already outlined a plan to accept the collection (see “Kunstmuseum Bern Will Accept Gurlitt Art Trove“).
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