Gurlitt Exhibition Postponed Due to Relative’s Legal Challenge

His cousin says she's the rightful heir.

Kunstmuseum BernPhoto: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia
Kunstmuseum Bern
Photo: Andreas Praefcke via Wikimedia

The highly anticipated public showing of the controversial, Nazi-tainted collection belonging to art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt has been postponed amid uncertainty over the outcome of a pending legal challenge over ownership of the collection.

Earlier this month, the Kunstmuseum Bern and the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn announced in a joint statement that works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Marc Chagall, and other modern masters bequeathed by Gurlitt will be “presented to the public in a historically and scientifically contextualized framework.”

However, a legal claim to the collection from Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner, who has contested the elderly man’s will and questioned his mental health during his final weeks, is still unresolved. Despite losing the initial case, Werner’s appeal is still ongoing.

Detail from Henri Matisse's Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair (1921). Photo: Lost Art Koordinierungsstelle

Detail from Henri Matisse’s Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair (1921).
Photo: Lost Art Koordinierungsstelle

A Munich court has now indicated that it wants to analyze the mental state of the art collector before his 2014 death in greater detail and has set a date for an inquiry at the end of September, Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

At the inquiry, testimonies from witnesses who spent time with Gurlitt in his final weeks and months will be heard. Additionally, the court will hear a testimony by the a court-appointed expert who previously concluded that Gurlitt was sane during the writing of his will.

Max Liebermann, Two Riders on a Beach (1901).Via Wikimedia Commons.

Max Liebermann, Two Riders on a Beach (1901).
Via Wikimedia Commons.

Werner wants to prevent the collection from going to the Kunstmuseum Bern, as stipulated in Gurlitt’s will. She claims that she is the rightful heir to the multimillion dollar collection which was found in his Munich apartment in 2013. Her claim is based on a psychological evaluation based on Gurlitt’s final letters and documents which portray the elderly man as vulnerable, paranoid, and schizophrenic.

In response the museums released a statement which said, “Both museums are working continually and are pursuing the plans. The exhibition is planned for 2017.”


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