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Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich 

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Old 11-03-2013, 12:53 PM
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Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

£1billion art collection seized by Nazis found in shabby Munich apartment: Experts believed 1,500 pictures by artists including Picasso, Renoir and Matisse had been destroyed by RAF raids .

  • More than 1,500 paintings found including pieces by Picasso and Matisse
  • Collector Hildebrandt Gurlitt ordered for them to be destroyed in 1945
  • But in a routine search on a train from Switzerland to Germany, his son was caught with 9,000 euros cash earned from an illicit art deal
  • Officials searched his small rented apartment in Munich and found the art
  • Experts claim most were acquired from Jews in
    exchange for escape


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A treasure trove of artworks worth almost £1billion seized by the Nazis and reportedly destroyed in RAF bombing raids during WW2 has been found behind rotting food in shabby apartment in Munich.
Experts have hailed the discovery of the 1,500 pictures, thought to have been lost or bombed, as a sensational find.

The story of the lost masterpieces of such painters as Pablo Picasso, Renoir, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall is revealed in this week's edition of Germany's Focus magazine which broke the story of the incredible find by customs officials.

Art historians examining the collection claim up to 300 of the Gurlitt collection appeared in a Nazi exhibition called Degenerate Art - displaying what they deemed to be poor.

The rest were bought at 'shamefully' low prices from Jews in exchange for an escape route out of the country.


One of the paintings is a portrait of a woman by the French master Matisse that belonged in the collection of the Jewish connoisseur Paul Rosenberg, who had to leave behind his collection before his escape from Paris when the country fell in 1940.
His granddaughter Anne Sinclair, the wife of disgraced former top banker Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been fighting for decades for the return of his pictures stolen by the Nazis, but according to Focus she 'knew nothing' of the existence of this painting.


It was found, alongside around 1,500 other pieces, in the Aladdin's Cave behind a wall of tins of beans and fruit in the decrepit flat of loner Cornelius Gurlit in the Munich suburb of Schwabing.

This artwork by some of the giants of the 19th and 20th centuries was deemed 'degenerate' by the provincially-minded Nazi hierachy, stolen from collectors - many of them Jewish - and ordered to be shut away by Hitler and his henchmen.
Other works discovered in the flat are by Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Otto Dix, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Liebermann.

The astonishing story of their recovery is like the plot from a thriller.


Dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt had acquired the paintings and sketches in the 1930s and 40s for a pittance from terrified Jews and reported them all to be destroyed at the war's end during the ferocious bombing of Dresden.
Nothing was known about the collection until September 2010, almost 100 years later, when customs carried out a routine check on a train from Switzerland.

Stopping his sole surviving son - who had never worked and who had no visible means of income - they discovered he had an envelope containing 9,000 euros in cash, and a stash of empty envelopes.
Many wealthy Germans deposit money illegally in Switzerland to evade high taxation rates on their savings in their homeland and such checks on people are commonplace.

He appeared nervous and the officials issued a search warrant for his £600-a-month rented flat.

It was entered in the spring of 2011 and the paintings discovered.
But, controversially, customs slapped a ban on information about the raid.

Ever since, art historians have been trying to find the heirs to the sketches, oil paintings, charcoals, lithographs and watercolours around the world while prosecutors pursue tax evasion charges against Gurlitt who sold artworks off piece-meal over the years to live on.
One painting by Max Beckmann - The Lion Tamer - he hawked at the Cologne auction house of Lempertz for nearly £750,000 shortly before the collection was seized.

The recovered works are now in a security wing of Bavarian customs in Garching near Munich where a team of experts are trying to find the heirs to the rightful owners.
'This is a sensational find,' said a spokesman for German Customs. 'A true treasure trove. It is an incredible story.'
The collection has meant that Gurlitt has managed to survive his entire life without any official bank account, pension or insurance.
When stopped by customs, extensive checks found that he was not registered with the police - mandatory in Germany - the tax authorities or social services. He drew no pension and had no health insurance.

'He was a man who didn't exist,' said one official.
When his apartment was entered investigators discovered a mountain of past sell-by date of tinned and bottled food. Behind the decomposing food, next to a barred window, were found the missing artworks.
A customs official went on: 'They are worth over a billion euros, we are told, but the real worth is inestimable. They are treasures.' But they were artworks despised by the Nazis.
Hitler and his propaganda minister Josef Goebbels seized some 20,000 such works before WW2, many of which were displayed in the 'Degenerate Art' exhibition in Munich. Hitler liked only romantic paintings that idolised his vision of German supermen: impressionism, cubism and modernism had no place in the Third Reich.

Tens of thousands of Germans visited the Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich in 1937 to see their leaders tell them what not to like.
But behind-the-scenes, owners of paintings, many of them Jewish, were being forced to sell them at rock-bottom prices to art dealers in exchange for an escape to safer countries.

Gurlitt is a name well-known to art aficionados, a family who once catered to the elite of the German art collecting scene. Hildebrand Gurlitt was among the most respected art historians in Germany by the time the Nazis came to power in 1933.
He was a champion of modern art - and therefore, initially, hated by the Nazis. He was relieved of museum directorial posts by the regime and also persecuted because of his Jewish grandmother. But the Nazis also needed him because no-one had the contacts within Nazi Germany - and outside - that he had with collectors.
He was tasked by Goebbels personally with 'versilbern' - turning into cash - the degenerate artworks of the Jews for the regime. He did this with some zeal and was rewarded by being offered the future post of director of the 'super' museum of art that Hitler planned to open in Linz, Austria, where he had once lived.

Gurlitt acquired 'hundreds and hundreds' of artworks at knock-down prices, according to Focus. After the Nazi's Degenerate Art exhibition, he took control of some of the exhibits too.
At the end of the war Guirlitt said the firebombing of Dresden in February 1945 had destroyed his collection at the family home in Kaitzer Strasse.

His Jewish roots and his initial disfavour with Nazism made him, in the eyes of the Allies, a victim not a persecutor and he was never charged with fleecing Jews out of selling their collections for pennies. He carried on dealing in art until 1956 when he was killed in a car crash.
It wasn't until his son was stopped on the train three years ago that the secret of his collection was revealed.

A customs spokesman added: 'We went into the apartment expecting to find a few thousand undeclared euros, maybe a black bank account.

'But we were stunned with what we found. From floor to ceiling, from bedroom to bathroom, were piles and piles of old food in tins and old noodles, much of it from the 80's.

'And behind it all these pictures worth tens, hundreds of millions of euros.'
Focus reported that investigators later found a bank savings book of Cornelius Gurlitt with half-a-million euros on deposit in it, the fruits of his sale of the artwork over the years.
Ironically, although Gurlitt faces jail for tax evasion and money laundering, many of the paintings could be returned to him if their rightful heirs are not found.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...apartment.html

Control: Hitler only liked classical art and held exhibitions of modern 'dissident' pieces to show German people what not to like. Many of those paintings that appeared in those shows have been found in Gurlitt's collection


Collector: Hildebrandt Gurlitt amassed more than 1,500 masterpieces and ordered them to be destroyed in 1945. His son was found on a train with 9,000 euros cash after selling off one of the collection in Switzerland


Holding place: The £600-a-month apartment in Munich where officials discovered the hidden paintings


Sold: The Lion Tamer by painter Max Beckmann was one of the paintings in the collection Gurlitt has already sold


Matisse: Art historians are excited about the discovery of a painting by Matisse of a young woman like this

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Potential heir: Anne Sinclair, wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (pictured together) is the granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg who is believed to have given his paintings to Gurlitt for a passage to safety

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Old 11-04-2013, 09:47 PM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

That's awesome! So much was stolen and never found, glad that wasn't fully the case here.

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Old 11-04-2013, 10:37 PM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

How in Hell did they steal that statue?

It appears she is on a stretcher

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Old 11-05-2013, 06:39 AM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

Quote:
Originally Posted by gatagato View Post
Dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt had acquired the paintings and sketches in the 1930s and 40s for a pittance from terrified Jews and reported them all to be destroyed at the war's end during the ferocious bombing of Dresden.
Pretty cut and dried in my opinion, his dad bought them fair and square so the only law i can see that was broken was income tax evasion. The paintings should be handed back to the bloke, he is the legal owner of them.

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Old 01-25-2016, 01:15 PM
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Lost Polish Painting Tracked Down

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A painting by Polish artist Horacy Vernet (1789-1863) has been found in a collection once owned by an art expert who worked for Adolf Hitler.
The oil-on-canvas painting depicts the 1813 death of Prince Marshal Józef Poniatowski at the battle in Leipzig. “Vernet’s vision was so strong that in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was copied in countless paintings, artworks as well as other artistic uses: on teacups, plates, cups, clocks, etc,” said the Communi Hereditate foundation, which broke the news on Monday. According to the lostart.de website, the provenance of the painting traces it back to Maria Teresa Tyszkiewicz, née Princess Poniatowski, in Paris. The painting is part of almost 1,400 artworks found in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt in Munich in 2012. Gurlitt is the son of dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was assigned by Adolf Hitler to dispose of “degenerate art” confiscated by the Nazis during WWII. The report into the haul has just been completed following over two years of painstaking research by the Task Force Schwabing Art Trove, a group of international experts assigned to the case.

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Old 01-26-2016, 07:23 AM
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Re: Lost Polish Painting Tracked Down

1,400 paintings!!!!!

First, that must've been a huge apartment. Second, I'm so glad these survived the war!

I wondered the why it took until 2012 to find it. Was Hildebrand Gurlitt acting nobly, trying to save these paintings from the fire? Or was he hoarding them, to enhance his personal wealth after the war?

So I briefly researched it.

Turns out it was the latter. After the War, Gurlitt lied to U.S. interrogators, stating that the art was destroyed in the fire-bombming of Dresden. He then began a lucrative career dealing in stolen art.

Interesting post, lobo221! Thanks!

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Old 01-26-2016, 07:58 PM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

Whoops.... Thanks to gatagato for the story, & lobo221 for the addition. It's an interesting story!

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Old 01-27-2016, 01:10 AM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

Good. Love it when Nazi collaborators getting payback so many years later.

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Old 01-31-2016, 04:11 PM
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Re: Billion-pound Art Collection Seized By The Nazis Discovered In Munich

The question remains: Where is the Amber Room?

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