The German government announced an expansion of efforts to return Nazi loot on Friday. According to the dpa, federal culture minister Monika Grütters will place top priority on the development on a new German Center for the Return of Cultural Property. Grütters told the news agency that her office would seek a marked increase in the current €2.7 million (US$ 3.7 million) annual budget for provenance research. This will allow for deeper investigations of museum collections as well as state archives and libraries, where a significant amount of Nazi loot is believed to remain.
The office would expand efforts already undertaken by the Lost Art Foundation and its online portal lost-art.de will be based in Magdeburg with a further office located in Berlin. Lost Art has been responsible for publishing information about nearly 500 works of art found in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in 2012, since the find came to light three and a half months ago. However, Grütters told the dpa that her office’s commitment to expanding research into the provenance of the country’s public collections for pottential Nazi loot stretches back long before the Gurlitt affair. On March 14th, culture ministers from the various German states will meet with Grütters in Berlin to further discuss the development and implementation of the center.
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