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Label: missing

Thursday 06th February 2014Missing Art Discovered Stashed in Salzburg

Often overlooked among the despicably inhuman acts of World War 2 is the cultural fate of the nations that were invaded by the Nazis. As part of their cultural persecutions, many pieces of famous art were confiscated from their owners, branded as 'degenerate art' and boxed up and hidden in various locations by Nazi soldiers. However, not all the pieces that were branded 'degenerate' were destroyed outright, and according to the Claims Conference, an organisation dedicated to restitution of valuables lost during the war, four art dealers were commissioned by Hitler to handle sales of stolen art with the intent of helping to fund the war effort. They claim that Hildebrand Gurlitt was one of those four, who died in 1956 leaving a staggering number of potentially stolen works in the possession of his son, Cornelius Gurlitt.

After the initial discovery of over 1400 paintings were discovered in Gurlitt's apartment in Munich in 2012, including long-lost pieces by Pablo Picasso, Otto Dix and Henri Matisse among other long-lost and even previously unknown works, the initial appraisal placed the value of the works at $1.35 billion US dollars. This inspired the further exploration of a house in Salzburg, Austria, which lead to the discovery of even more unknown paintings, numbering nearly 60. A lawyer for Mr. Gurlitt, Hannes Hartung, described the collection: "They are very prominent works. A wonderful Seine scene by Pissarro, a wonderful bridge picture by Monet and a sailing boat sea scape by Manet. Then there are also many other works by Renoir, and by Liebermann. They are in general artistically outstandingly good pieces, which are of more significance than the collection from Schwabing [located in Munich]."

It's important to note that it has yet to be proven one way or the other whether the paintings were inherited legally by Mr. Gurlitt, although authorities have taken possession of the works until their provenance can be verified. Mr. Gurlitt insists that his father only purchased paintings legally, although many groups are calling for a list of the works to be published so that their own experts can cross-reference looking for stolen pieces.

Perhaps the strangest part of all? All these revelations stemmed from a simple tax investigation by German authorities. It makes the imagination wonder what other artistic treasures have been locked away from the world for so long that we've forgotten about them, or believed them destroyed.

Posted on February 06th 2014 on 06:37pm
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