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Post-Postscript to "Nazis, Monuments Men, Hidden Treasures, and the Restitution of Looted Art"

By Leila Amineddoleh

In the April 18th postscript to the article I authored in the Spring issue of the EASL Journal entitled "Nazis, Monuments Men, Hidden Treasures, and the Restitution of Looted Art", I examined new legal issues related to the Munich Art Trove (the collection of artwork that was seized from Cornelius Gurlitt in 2012). In that blog post, I stated, "Some of the biggest questions will occur after Gurlitt's death." Now less than three weeks after the posting of that blog entry, it was announced that the octogenarian passed away on May 6th. Before his death, Gurlitt's attorney informed the public that his client did set provisions for the works in his will. It was revealed this week that Gurlitt bequeathed his entire collection to a Swiss museum, Kunstmuseum Bern.

The museum announced that it is "surprised and delighted" to have the paintings left to its collection. However the museum recognizes that this gift brings "a considerable burden of responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature." The museum has also indicated that it will abide by the Washington Principles in resolving restitution claims, if the institution moves forward and accepts the gift.

The Swiss museum was surprised to learn of this gift because it previously had no relationship with Gurlitt. In bequeathing the entire collection to Kunstmuseum Bern, the deceased left nothing to Germany; perhaps this is due to Gurlitt's outrage of the German government's seizure of the works.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 9, 2014 3:48 PM.

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