Nazi Looted Pissarro Discovered in Gurlitt Trove Gifted to Bern

The Kunstmuseum Bern. Photo by Andreas Praefcke, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license, GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2.

Only days after the Kunstmuseum Bern released a preliminary list of artworks bequeathed to the institution by the controversial Cornelius Gurlitt, the first confirmed Nazi-looted piece has emerged from the contentious collection.

The New York Times reported that a Camille Pissarro painting known as Paris Kathedrale (1902) from the Kunstmuseum’s list was matched by a Jewish research team to a Pissarro painting listed as View of Paris (1902) in the Art objects at the Jeu de Paume database of stolen art. The painting was discovered amongst 250 other works in Gurlitt’s Salzburg home in February.

The match was later confirmed by the Director of the Kunstmuseum Bern, Matthias Frehner, who told the New York Times “We ourselves recognized that this is looted art.” He assured that “we will do our utmost to arrange a swift restitution.”

The Swiss museum’s response to the latest development indicates that they are prepared to uphold their promise of transparency and adherence to the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. The agreement between the Kunstmuseum, the German state, and the Bavarian authorities investigating the Gurlitt collection was reached on Monday.

Even Ronald Lauder, collector and President of the World Jewish Congress who had previously threatened the Kunstmuseum Basel with an “avalanche of lawsuits” seems to have changed his tune. He told the New York Times “the Bern museum has played it very correctly I think.”

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