The German news magazine Focus reveals what may be the most significant jolt to the supply-starved Modern art market in years as the authorities reveal they have recovered 1500 works, of art estimated at $1.3bn, that was looted by the Nazis and passed down to Cornelius Gurlitt. The trove is said to include works by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Klee, Beckmann and Nolde. The Telegraph summarizes the Focus report and the Daily Mail provides a photograph (above) of the apartment building that housed the trove:
Germany’s Focus magazine reported Gurlitt’s son was stopped on a train to Swizerland in 2010 carrying 9,000 euros in cash during a sweep by the authorities against Germans with undeclared bank accounts across the border. […]
The younger Gurlitt lived without earning a declared income but had more than 500,000 in bank accounts. He has been charged with tax evasion and money-laundering.
‘We went into the apartment expecting to find a few thousand undeclared euros, maybe a black bank account,” a Customs spokesman told Focus. ‘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. Behind it all these pictures worth tens, hundreds of millions of euros.” […]
Josef Goebbels used the elder Gurlitt to sell part of the 20,000 Degenerate Art collection which was put on display in Munich in 1937. Goebbels later appointed him to be the director of a “super museum” the Nazis hoped to build in Linz, Austria.
After the war, Gurlitt was allowed to continue his business. He told allied investigators that the artworks were destroyed when the family mansion was destroyed in the firebombing of Dresden in Febuary 1945.