Sunday 22 April 2018

Germany says Nazi-looted art trove includes works by Picasso

A painting of Marc Chagall is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg
A painting of Marc Chagall is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg
A painting from Otto Dix is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany
A painting of Otto Dix "Selbstportrait Rauchend" ("Selfportrait Smoking"
A painting from Max Liebermann "Zwei Reiter am Strande" ("Two riders on the beach")
A painting from Henry Matisse "Sitzende Frau" ("Sitting Woman")
REFILE - CLARIFYING CAPTION A U.S. soldier views art stolen by the Nazi regime and stored in a church at Ellingen, Germany April 24, 1945. A vast trove of modern art seized under Germany's Nazi regime, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, has been discovered in a Munich apartment among stacks of rotting groceries, German magazine Focus reported. The 1,500 art works, missing for more than 70 years, and discovered by chance by customs authorities in the southern German state of Bavaria in 2011, could be worth well over 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion), Focus said. The artworks shown in the picture are not those discovered in the Munich apartment in 2011. REUTERS/U.S. National Archives & Records And Records Administration/Handout via Reuters (GERMANY - Tags: CRIME LAW MILITARY CONFLICT POLITICS SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
People stand outside the Nazi-curated travelling exhibition, 'Degenerate Art,' (Entartete Kunst), at its second stop after Munich at the Haus der Kunst in Berlin February 4 1938. A vast collection of modern art branded 'degenerate' and seized by the Nazis which includes works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall has been discovered in a Munich flat amongst stacks of rotting groceries, German magazine Focus reported on Monday. The 1,500 art works, missing for more than 70 years, and discovered by chance by customs authorites in the southern German state of Bavaria, could be worth well over one billion euros. Customs investigators made the sensational find in the spring of 2011. Picture taken February 4, 1938. REUTERS/Ullstainbild (GERMANY - ENTERTAINMENT CITYSPACE POLITICS CRIME LAW SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. MANDATORY CREDIT. AUSTRIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN AUSTRIA. GERMANY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN GERMANY. SWITZERLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SWITZERLAND
U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, accompanied by U.S. General Omar N. Bradley (L), inspects art treasures stolen by the Nazi regime and hidden in a salt mine in Merkers, Germany April 12, 1945. A vast trove of modern art seized under Germany's Nazi regime, including works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, has been discovered in a Munich apartment among stacks of rotting groceries, German magazine Focus reported. The 1,500 art works, missing for more than 70 years, and discovered by chance by customs authorities in the southern German state of Bavaria in 2011, could be worth well over 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion), Focus said. The artworks shown in the picture were recovered in 1945, and are not those discovered in the Munich apartment in 2011. REUTERS/U.S. National Archives & Records And Records Administration/Handout via Reuters (GERMANY- Tags: CRIME LAW MILITARY CONFLICT SOCIETY) ATTENTION EDITORS THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The 1,500 art works, missing for more than 70 years, and discovered by chance by customs authorites in the southern German state of Bavaria, could be worth well over €1bn
A vast collection of modern art branded 'degenerate' and seized by the Nazis which includes works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall has been discovered in a Munich flat amongst stacks of rotting groceries
Augsburg state prosecutor Reinhard Nemetz (C) and expert art historian Meike Hoffmann (R) from the Berlin Free University. A Jewish group accused Germany on Monday of moral complicity in concealment of stolen paintings after it emerged authorities failed for two years to report discovery of a trove of modern art seized by the Nazis.

A trove of Nazi-looted art found in a Munich flat included works dating from the 16th century to the modern period from artists such as Canaletto, Courbet, Picasso, Chagall and Toulouse-Lautrec, German authorities said on Tuesday.

Customs officials discovered the roughly 1,400 art works during a search of the flat last year, said Siegfried Kloeble from the city's customs investigation office.

He said media reports that authorities had failed to disclose the find for two years were wide of the mark and there had been no undue delay.

"When we looked through the flat we found numerous paintings," Kloeble told a news conference. "The paintings in this room were professionally stored and in a very good condition."

A Jewish group accused Germany on Monday of moral complicity in concealment of stolen paintings after initial reports of the delay in disclosing the discovery of the huge trove of art.

The case poses a legal and moral minefield for authorities. The Nazi regime systematically plundered hundreds of thousands of art works from museums and individuals across Europe. An unknown number of works is still missing, and museums worldwide have held investigations into the origins of their exhibits.

Germany has faced criticism that the restitution process is too complicated and lacks sufficient funding.

Reinhard Nemetz of the public prosecutor's office in Augsburg said there were no plans to publish a list of the works online.

Instead, he said the authorities would welcome it if people who suspected the trove may contain paintings that rightfully belonged to their ancestors came forward.

Meike Hoffmann, an expert on art the Nazis branded un-German or "degenerate" and removed from show in state museums, said the works of art were of an "extraordinary aesthetic quality" and of high scientific value.

"When you stand in front of works that were long considered lost, missing or destroyed, and you see them again, in a relatively good condition - a little bit dirty but not damaged - it's an incredible feeling of happiness," she said.

"They have an incredible artistic value. Many of the works were not at all known until now," she added.

Reuters

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