The German government and the octogenarian who last fall was discovered to be hiding a trove of nearly 1,500 Nazi-era artworks have reached an agreement about the future of the collection. The news was announced today in a press release, posted in full on Gurlitt’s website. The terms allow for the continued research into the provenance of artworks suspected to have been looted or confiscated by the Nazis — Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer whose name frequently appears in the Nazis’ “Degenerate Art” inventory. The government task force carrying out the provenance research will aim to finish its work within a year, after which time works that haven’t been studied will be returned to Gurlitt, with the condition that he will continue to allow access to them. Pieces for which there are outstanding restitution claims will not revert to Gurlitt. He will also be allowed to choose a researcher to work with the task force “to ensure his interests are protected.”
In the announcement, the Gurlitt collection is referred to as the Schwabing Art Trove, a name that refers to the area in Munich where the 80-year-old had been living in a small apartment with the art stashed away on homemade shelves. The trove includes works by big-name artists from Otto Dix and Marc Chagall to Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, nearly 600 of which are currently being investigated by the task force. Most of those are listed on the German government’s Lost Art website. The collection was discovered by German authorities in 2012, although only reported late last year in the German magazine Focus. Since that news came to light, 238 more artworks have been found hidden away in a dilapidated house owned by Gurlitt in Salzburg, Austria. Among those is a valuable Monet painting of Waterloo Bridge from 1903 that was long believed lost.
When his art was first seized, the reclusive Gurlitt told Der Spiegel, “What do these people want from me? I’m just a very quiet person. All I wanted to do was live with my pictures.” In today’s press release announcing the agreement with the German government, both Bavarian Minister of Justice Winfried Bausback and court-appointed lawyer Christoph Edel praise Gurlitt’s “moral responsibility.”
h/t LA Times