Wednesday, November 6, 2013

German Authorities Locate Nazi Art Trove

The LA Times reports:

Unknown masterpieces by artists such as Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, works thought lost to the ravages of war and others deemed "degenerate" or looted by the Nazis form part of the spectacular trove of art discovered by German authorities in the apartment of an elderly recluse in Munich.

Two days after news of the find broke, officials in southern Germany revealed Tuesday that the hoard contains 1,406 pieces by masters whose names read like a who's who of Western art of the last 150 years: Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustave Courbet, Oskar Kokoschka, Emil Nolde.

But the authorities seem unsure what they'll do with the paintings:

Since word of the cache emerged, advocates of returning art looted during the war have criticized German officials for keeping quiet so long and for failing to issue an inventory as quickly as possible to allow heirs of the original owners to reclaim what was stolen.

Nemetz [the state prosecutor] said that keeping the works safe was crucial and that their security could have been compromised by a media frenzy surrounding news of their discovery. He does not intend to exhibit or publish images of the entire stash, and it will be up to people who believe that a former family possession might be included to contact his office.

"Our primary goal is to investigate whether there has been a crime," Nemetz said. "It is by no means easy to find the rightful owners, particularly when we are talking about more than 1,400 paintings."

He added: "It is totally counterproductive for us to go public with this case. We don't want to keep the pictures. The pictures are not going to be put up in my office."

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