Gurlitt Speaks: The Spiegel Interview

File photo of name plate on the house of art collector Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg

Spiegel’s original story from which most are quoting is now available in english and worth reading for the portrait it portrays of Cornelius Gurlitt. The story reminds us that the German laws governing the art, its ownership and the statute of limitations on when claims can be made against it is the real issue in the case:

He doesn’t understand what people want from him. He says the public prosecutor’s office has the pictures now, so people should go there if they want to see the works or find out something about them. He knows a lot about their origins, he says, but he prefers to keep that to himself — like a love affair that needs to be guarded. “And there is nothing I have loved more in my life than my pictures.” […]

Gurlitt has to answer so many questions for which he has no answers. “I never had anything to do with acquiring the pictures, only with saving them,” he says. He helped his father back in Dresden when they saved the works of art from the Russians. People should be thankful to him, he says. “My father knew the Russians were getting closer and closer.”

His father quickly organized a vehicle from the carpool in Dresden, he recalls, and father and son loaded the artwork into the car. His father then brought everything to a farmer near Dresden, and later to a castle in southern Germany. He says that his father knew people everywhere in Germany.

“People only see banknotes between these papers with paint — unfortunately,” he says. 

SPIEGEL Interview With Cornelius Gurlitt About Munich Art Find (SPIEGEL ONLINE)