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Art stolen by the Nazis discovered in Munich: 1,500 pieces reported found

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 4th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Among the many, many crimes of the Third Reich were the theft of countless artworks, depriving their victim nations of their cultural heritage. Now - a veritable treasure trove of 1,500 works of art have been discovered in Munich. If confirmed by art historians, the discovery will rank among the most significant finds of the postwar era.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the German news magazine Focus, the cache of modernist masterpieces looted in the 1930s and 1940s is believed to include priceless works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall. Nearly all the recovered pieces had been considered long lost - until now.

Among the works discovered was German artist Max Beckman's "Lion Tamer," a 1930 gouache and pastel work on paper. The work was recently sold by Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of Hildebrandt Gurlitt, the art dealer who in the run-up to the Second World War had been in charge of gathering "degenerate art" for the Nazis.

Deemed "degenerate art" by the Nazis and seized from Jewish collectors eventually made their way to a German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt. Upon his death, his son Cornelius inherited the stolen goods, apparently unaware of the art's origins.

Authorities were drawn to 80-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt in 2010 after an inquiry into his finances. A raid was conducted on Gurlitt's residence in 2011. Authorities found a massive collection of pieces by some of the world's most celebrated and revered artistic giants.

Gurlitt kept the works hidden in darkened rooms, selling a painting every now and then when he needed a cash infusion, the magazine reported.

International warrants were out for at least 200 of the prized works. The collection is being stored in a secure warehouse in Munich for the time being.

Germans customs officials remained silent on their discovery in the intervening years due to the diplomatic and legal complications stemming from the stolen goods.

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