(Image Source: Focus)

 


 

BY CHARESSE JAMES

 


 

Historians are calling it the biggest artistic find of the postwar era: In a Munich apartment, German officials found some 1,500 modernist masterpieces once looted by the Nazis.

 

“Art by the likes of Matisse and Picasso believed to have been seized by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s found in the flat of a 80-year-old man on suspicion of tax evasion. Now, German authorities aren’t confirming or denying presence of this art.” (Via CNN)

 

The paintings were discovered in spring 2011 during a raid by Bavarian tax authorities, but news of the discovery only just surfaced, thanks to a report from German news magazine Focus Sunday.

 

The collection is said to include works by Modernist masters, many of which were thought to be destroyed in the war. It also included previously unknown works. The find has an estimated value of more than $1 billion.

 

And while historians are overjoyed, many are angry with German authorities for keeping the lid on the discovery for so long, calling it a cover up. But returning looted artwork isn’t that simple.

 

An art historian told The Guardian, the find opens a legal can of worms, and the huge number of restitution claims expected from around the world could pose diplomatic difficulties for Germany. And The Telegraph adds:

 

“It is apparently likely that most of the works in the Munich hoard ... are works seized from French Jews during the Occupation. ... And beyond [that] lies the far more complex matter of paintings in private collections, which may have changed hands several times on the commercial art market over the decades since the Second World War.”

 

You see, modern art was banned soon after the Nazis came into power, from 1933 right up through WWII, on the grounds it was “un-German.” However, records of which artworks were taken from where were incomplete. (Via Vimeo / Emily Toland)

 

And to ensure the stolen art went back to the correct families, some galleries and museums weren’t returning them without proof of ownership — receipts, sometimes old photographs — many of which are gone forever.

 

Also, there’s no evidence that the man found in possession of the art broke any laws to get the artwork, which was, for the most part, left untouched in his home. Instead, the 80-year-old inherited them from his father, a wartime art dealer. (Via The New York Times)

 

His father, who was part Jewish, was removed from his position at an art gallery and recruited by the Nazis to sell the art abroad to earn money for the state. He kept some of them, which he passed to his son, reportedly unaware of their origins, when he died. (Via NBC)


German officials have not yet released information about the specific pieces recovered, but descendents of Jewish collectors who were robbed or blackmailed of their works may be able to legally claim ownership of some of the works.

Nazi-Stolen Artwork Discovered in German Apartment

by Charesse James
0
Transcript
Nov 5, 2013

Nazi-Stolen Artwork Discovered in German Apartment

(Image Source: Focus)

 


 

BY CHARESSE JAMES

 


 

Historians are calling it the biggest artistic find of the postwar era: In a Munich apartment, German officials found some 1,500 modernist masterpieces once looted by the Nazis.

 

“Art by the likes of Matisse and Picasso believed to have been seized by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s found in the flat of a 80-year-old man on suspicion of tax evasion. Now, German authorities aren’t confirming or denying presence of this art.” (Via CNN)

 

The paintings were discovered in spring 2011 during a raid by Bavarian tax authorities, but news of the discovery only just surfaced, thanks to a report from German news magazine Focus Sunday.

 

The collection is said to include works by Modernist masters, many of which were thought to be destroyed in the war. It also included previously unknown works. The find has an estimated value of more than $1 billion.

 

And while historians are overjoyed, many are angry with German authorities for keeping the lid on the discovery for so long, calling it a cover up. But returning looted artwork isn’t that simple.

 

An art historian told The Guardian, the find opens a legal can of worms, and the huge number of restitution claims expected from around the world could pose diplomatic difficulties for Germany. And The Telegraph adds:

 

“It is apparently likely that most of the works in the Munich hoard ... are works seized from French Jews during the Occupation. ... And beyond [that] lies the far more complex matter of paintings in private collections, which may have changed hands several times on the commercial art market over the decades since the Second World War.”

 

You see, modern art was banned soon after the Nazis came into power, from 1933 right up through WWII, on the grounds it was “un-German.” However, records of which artworks were taken from where were incomplete. (Via Vimeo / Emily Toland)

 

And to ensure the stolen art went back to the correct families, some galleries and museums weren’t returning them without proof of ownership — receipts, sometimes old photographs — many of which are gone forever.

 

Also, there’s no evidence that the man found in possession of the art broke any laws to get the artwork, which was, for the most part, left untouched in his home. Instead, the 80-year-old inherited them from his father, a wartime art dealer. (Via The New York Times)

 

His father, who was part Jewish, was removed from his position at an art gallery and recruited by the Nazis to sell the art abroad to earn money for the state. He kept some of them, which he passed to his son, reportedly unaware of their origins, when he died. (Via NBC)


German officials have not yet released information about the specific pieces recovered, but descendents of Jewish collectors who were robbed or blackmailed of their works may be able to legally claim ownership of some of the works.

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