Collector's will casts doubt on future of 'Nazi art'
Fresh doubts were cast over the future of the hoard of Nazi-looted paintings owned by Cornelius Gurlitt yesterday after reports that he had bequeathed all of his 1,400 works to the Berne Museum of Fine Arts in Switzerland.
Gurlitt, who was the son of Adolf Hitler's art dealer, died, aged 81, on Tuesday after having open heart surgery. He left a huge collection of paintings, many of them looted by the Nazis, which is estimated to be worth up to e31.3bn.
Germany has said it will press ahead with ownership claims on the paintings, which were found in Gurlitt's Munich apartment in 2012 and subsequently confiscated by the Bavarian authorities.
But there was confusion yesterday following claims that the collector has requested that the works be sent abroad.
'Der Spiegel' magazine reported that Gurlitt had stipulated in a will, completed only weeks before his operation, that all the paintings should be left to the Museum of Fine Arts. He had no close relations.
Gurlitt had reportedly felt he had been treated "like a criminal" by the German authorities and had not wanted his paintings to remain in Germany.
Stephan Holzinger, his lawyer, said: "I can understand that there is now wild speculation, but I don't want to comment on that at this stage."
He said it was now up to a probate court to decide whether the will was valid and if a contract of inheritance existed. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)