Newspaper article International New York Times

German Deal Clears Way for Art Trove to Be Returned ; Experts Given One Year to Check Provenance of Works Found in Munich

Newspaper article International New York Times

German Deal Clears Way for Art Trove to Be Returned ; Experts Given One Year to Check Provenance of Works Found in Munich

Article excerpt

The son of a Nazi-era art dealer has reached an agreement with the government paving the way for the restitution of works taken from Jewish owners.

The German government has announced an agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi-era art dealer, that would pave the way for the possible restitution of art wrongfully taken from Jewish owners and held in his private collection for decades.

Lawyers for Mr. Gurlitt, representatives of the state of Bavaria, and the German federal government agreed Monday that a government- appointed team of international experts had one year in which to investigate the works seized from Mr. Gurlitt's Munich apartment in 2012.

The deal would take effect when the works, which are being held by the Bavarian authorities as part of a criminal investigation, are released. It applies to all art of questionable provenance in Mr. Gurlitt's collection, which has become known as the Munich Art Trove. The authorities said Mr. Gurlitt could prove legal ownership of some of the works.

Reached after several weeks of negotiations, the agreement bypasses the 30-year deadline under the statute of limitations that applies to stolen property in Germany, and in doing so, represents a willingness by the German government to resolve outstanding claims related to Nazi-looted art.

The resolution comes months after the public first learned of the more than 1,280 works -- including some by major artists such as Picasso, Chagall and Gauguin -- held by Mr. Gurlitt. They were seized by Augsburg prosecutors as part of a tax evasion investigation. When the German news media broke the story of their existence last November, it incited outrage around the world.

Responding to intense international criticism over how it had handled the art, the German government appointed a task force to investigate their provenance with an aim to return looted works to their rightful owners. …

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