Art Law Report

Gurlitt Bequest to Kunstmuseum Bern is Upheld, Little Else Resolved

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 30, 2015 at 10:05 AM

A Munich court ruled last week that the will written by Cornelius Gurlitt in the last days of his life that named the Kunstmuseum Bern (an institution with which he had no relationship whatsoever) was valid, rejecting a challenge by Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner. It is emblematic of the strange case of Gurlitt and of German’s bizarre handling of the affair, that this decision resolves very few of the pending issues.

Read More

Topics: Conny Leaks, Focus, Carl Spitzweg, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Potemkin Village, Cornelius Gurlitt, Breslau, Henri Hinrichsen, German Minister of Culture, Uta Werner, Gurlitt Task Force, Max Liebermann, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Two Riders on the Beach, Entartete Kunst, Salzburg, Gurlitt, NS Raubkunst, Seuddeutsche Zeitung, Restitution, Catrin Lorch, Bavaria, David Toren, World War II, degenerate art, beschlagnahmte Kunst, Austria, Kunstmuseum Bern, Monika Grütters, Martha Hinrichsen, David Friedmann, Henri Matisse, Jörg Häntzschel, Paul Rosenberg

Kunstmuseum Bern and Germany Now Blaming Claimants for Delay in Gurlitt Restitution

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on February 20, 2015 at 4:28 AM

In a story that never fails to provide new twists and turns, the Kunstmseum Bern, apparently with the collaboration of the German government, is now contesting the idea that the only thing holding up restitution of the works identified as Nazi-looted by the Gurlitt Task Force is the will contest by Cornelius Gurlitt's cousin Uta Werner. Instead, they are now blaming the claimants themselves for the delay in restituting Seated Woman by Henri Matisse, The Cardplayers, by Carl Spitzweg, and Two Riders on the Beach, by Max Liebermann, to the Rosenberg, Henrichnsen, and Friedmann/Toren families, respectively.

Read More

Topics: The Cardplayers, Carl Spitzweg, Friedmann, Toren, Henrichnsen, Uta Werner, Max Liebermann, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, Two Riders on the Beach, Matisse, Rosenberg, Gurlitt, Restitution, World War II, German Center for Lost Cultural Property, Deutsches Zentrum für Kulturgutverluste, Henri Matisse

Gurlitt Task Force Makes First Determination that Matisse "Seated Woman" Was Stolen From Rosenbergs; Questions Remain About What Happens Next

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on June 12, 2014 at 1:11 AM

The Gurlitt Task Force has issued its first public conclusion about the status of work amongst the collection found in Cornelius Gurlitt's apartment. Chair Ingebeborg Berggreen-Merkel issued a statement today that (my translation):

Read More

Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Gurlitt Task Force, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Entartete Kunst, Munich art trove, Anne Sinclair, NS Raubkunst, Restitution, World War II, Kunstmuseum Bern, Washington Principles, Sitzende Frau, Kunstfund München, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Gurlitt Names Kunstmuseum Bern as Sole Heir. Will the Museum Want Everything that Comes with That?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 8, 2014 at 2:26 AM

Following confirmation by his attorney that Cornelius Gurlitt had left a will, it was further revealed yesterday that Gurlitt had not merely left his collection of paintings with substantial Nazi-looting questions to a museum outside Germany, but that he had named the Kunstmuseum Bern itself as his sole heir. The Kunstmuseum is the oldest museum in Switzerland, with more than 50,000 objects that include works by Vincent van Gogh, Franz Marc and Henri Matisse. The museum responded by releasing a statement that:

Read More

Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Bad Aussee, Cornelius Gurlitt, Gurlitt Task Force, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Vincent Van Gogh, Entartete Kunst, Salzburg, Restitution, World War II, Switzerland, Austria, Franz Marc, Kunstmuseum Bern, Museums, Nazi Raubkunst, Henri Matisse

Cornelius Gurlitt Passes Away, Questions Remain About Recent Deal and Fate of Collection

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on May 7, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Cornelius Gurlitt died yesterday, six months after his art collection was revealed to the world in a Focus article, and less than a month after striking a deal with Bavarian prosecutors over the 1,280 paintings and works of art seized from his apartment as part of a tax investigation. Although that brings the investigation that initially led to the seizure to an end, many questions remain about what will happen to the deal that he made, and to the works of art in Austria not covered by that deal

Read More

Topics: Focus, Bayern, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Germany, Nazi-looted art, Gurlitt Collection, Seated Woman, heirs, Entartete Kunst, stolen art, Anne Sinclair, Ersessene Kunst, Restitution, Bavaria, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, degenerate art, Erben, Austria, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, Raubkunst, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

The Gurlitt Deal—Prosecutor Gives Collection Back, Agreement Leaves Questions About Process and Transparency

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 9, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The Augsburg prosecutor for the State of Bavaria announced today that in connection with Monday’s agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt, the 1,280 works of art seized from Gurlitt’s apartment in 2012 have been “returned” to Gurlitt. Though it does not appear that the objects have physically changed locations, the state officially lifted the seizure, and now has access to the collection for further provenance research pursuant to the agreement, rather than the compulsory process by which it retrieved them.

Read More

Topics: German Ministry of Culture, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Cornelius Gurlitt, Bundesministerium für Kultur und Medien, Breslau, Augsburg, Willi Korte, London, Max Liebermann, Claude Monet, Christoph Edel, Gurlitt Collection, Ingrid Begreen-Merkel, Alt Ausee, Hildebrandt Gurlitt, stolen art, State of Bavaria, Reiter am Strand, Salzburg, Restitution, David Toren, Müncher Kunstfund, World War II, Task Force, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Freistaat Bayern, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, www.lostart.de, Monika Grütters, Riders on the Beach, Raubkunst, Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz, Bavarian Ministry of Justice, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Breakthrough? Gurlitt Signs Agreement with Germany For Continued Research and Commits to Return of Art

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on April 7, 2014 at 7:07 AM

Whether Austrian Trove is Included So Far Unmentioned In Reports of Agreement

On the heels of last night’s “60 Minutes” treatment of the Gurlitt saga (which featured Willi Korte and Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, two participants at January’s Ersessene Kunst-Der Fall Gurlitt at which I also spoke), news has come today that Cornelius Gurlitt has signed an agreement with the German federal government and the Bavarian Ministry of Justice with respect to the artworks taken from his apartment in 2012. Where recent statements that he intended to return what had been stolen left that outcome entirely to his discretion, he now seems to have committed expressly to some sort of return protocol. The precise details are still unknown.

Read More

Topics: German Ministry of Culture, Schwabinger Kunstfund, Cornelius Gurlitt, Bundesministerium für Kultur und Medien, Willi Korte, London, Claude Monet, Christoph Edel, Gurlitt Collection, Ingrid Begreen-Merkel, Alt Ausee, Hildebrandt Gurlitt, stolen art, Salzburg, Restitution, Müncher Kunstfund, Task Force, NS-beschlagnahmte Kunst, www.lostart.de, Monika Grütters, Raubkunst, Bayerisches Staatsministerium der Justiz, Bavarian Ministry of Justice, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Gurlitt Can’t Get His Story Straight About Salzburg Trove

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 27, 2014 at 6:30 AM

As confusion swirls around Cornelius Gurlitt’s actual plans, one of the issues is that his team is not speaking consistently with one voice. In particular, there are odd developments about the artworks that Gurlitt himself had removed from his Salzburg home in February—oddities that are worth weighing when considering the recent public statements about his supposed willingness to return some of the art. The fact that Gurlitt’s team itself has undergone a shakeup is also worthy of note.

Read More

Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, Stefan Edel, www.Gurlitt.Info, Mary Lane, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Sitting Woman, stolen art, Meike Hoffmann, Salzburg, Restitution, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, New York Times, Raubkunst, Münchner Kunstfund, Limbach Commission, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Gurlitt Art Return Click-Bait and Switch—Don’t Get Fooled by Headlines

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 27, 2014 at 6:17 AM

It was hardly surprising that news that Cornelius Gurlitt was willing to return artworks taken from his apartment in 2012 that had once been taken from Jews spread quickly. What is regrettable is how quickly the headlines seem to have gone viral that he is going—or even willing—to return all of the paintings. Nothing that he or his representatives have said supports that contention. From the New York Times, for example:

Read More

Topics: Schwabinger Kunstfund, Hannes Hartung, Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, www.Gurlitt.Info, Mary Lane, Fall Gurlitt, Gurlitt Collection, Sitting Woman, stolen art, Meike Hoffmann, Salzburg, Restitution, Wall Street Journal, World War II, Süddeutsche Zeitung, New York Times, Raubkunst, Münchner Kunstfund, Limbach Commission, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

Gurlitt "Wants" to Return “All Pictures Stolen or Looted from Jewish Possession”—But Stolen According to Whom?

Posted by Nicholas O'Donnell on March 26, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Christoph Edel, lawyer and guardian for Cornelius Gurlitt, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung today that his client wants to return “all pictures stolen or looted from Jewish possession.” Although this has set Twitter and the Internet ablaze with the news, the statement deserves careful scrutiny in light of Gurlitt’s strategy over the last two months. The likeliest meaning is that Gurlitt intends to return those works that he believes were stolen from Jews—a total he himself put at less than three percent of the 1,280 works found in his apartment, over 900 of which the Scwabinger Task Force has declared to be suspect. Note too that a slight mistranslation has already gotten into circulation. Whereas Edel told the SZ that Gurlitt "wants" to return those paintings, the German conjugation of want (will) was cited as a statement that he will (in English) return them. Not so fast, as they say.

Read More

Topics: Hildebrand Gurlitt, Cornelius Gurlitt, NDR, www.Gurlitt.Info, Christoph Edel, Gurlitt Collection, WDR, Sitting Woman, Henie-Onstad Museum, Salzburg, Restitution, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Henri Matisse, Paul Rosenberg

About the Blog


The Art Law Report provides timely updates and commentary on legal issues in the museum and visual arts communities.

Meet the Editor

Learn more about our Art & Museum Law practice

Subscribe to Blog

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all