Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cornelius Gurlitt Dies One Year After Revealing Hidden Artwork


A year after revealing his hidden collection of European artwork, Cornelius Gurlitt died at age 81.  Up until February 2012, Mr. Gurlitt had lived quietly in his Munich apartment.  However, during a tax evasion investigation, approximately 1,280 paintings and drawings by artists such as Picasso, Matisse, and Otto Dix were seized.  The paintings were amassed by Mr. Gurlitt’s father during Nazi Germany, many of which are though to be plundered from German museums and belonging to Jewish collectors.  Despite the community’s outrage over the hidden artwork, a court subsequently ordered a portion of the artwork be released to its legal owner, Mr. Gurlitt. 

Yet the question now arises what will become of the art, as Mr. Gurlitt died without known heirs.  While many believe the artwork is the property of the German government, others argue the artwork belongs to Mr. Gurlitt’s estate.

See Melissa Eddy and Alison Smale, Cornelius Gurlitt, Scrutinized Son of Nazi-Era Art Dealer, Dies at 81, The New York Times, May 6, 2014. 

Special thanks to Professor Adam Hirsch (University of San Diego) for bringing this article to my attention. 


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