Gurlitt Taskforce Will Miss Restitution Deadline

Cornelius Gurlitt. Photo: Markus Hannich.

The Bavarian culture ministry has declared that the taskforce charged with researching the rightful heirs to the collection of Nazi looted art, kept by the late art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt, will miss their self-imposed deadline, Art Magazin reports. The taskforce had hoped to conclude their research into the works’ provenance by the end of the year (see “Gurlitt Gives German Taskforce One Year to Research Provenance of Suspected Nazi Loot“).

Responding to an official inquiry by the Bavarian Green Party, the ministry told parliamentarians that “As it stands the research will continue into the year 2015.” The ministry revealed that by the end of the year they will at least have compiled a list of works which are definitely not Nazi looted artworks.

Bavarian Green party member Sepp Dürr criticized the delay, saying: “Proven claims have not been processed, heirdom inquiries are being left unanswered, excuses of thoroughness are being used as a pretext to disguise half-hearted research work.”

In all, 1280 artworks were taken from Gurlitt’s Munich apartment by tax authorities in February 2012, due to suspicion that the octogenarian art collector had evaded taxes. According to an individual who had been taking care of Gurlitt, only eight paintings were under suspicion of being Nazi looted artworks as of this past May. However, the taskforce has refused to confirm the caregiver’s statement and maintains that at least 458 works are still suspected of having Nazi ties and thus remain under investigation.

Upon his death, Gurlitt bequeathed the entire collection of works to Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern. Ahead of his death, however, the collector did indicate that he supported the return of artworks proven to be Nazi loot to their rightful heirs. Much speculation has circulated regarding whether or not the museum will accept the collection (see “Swiss Museum’s Decision on Gurlitt Art Trove“). However, representatives have maintained that decision will not be made until a meeting of the museum’s board on November 26th.

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