Nazi-art hoarder names Swiss museum heir to paintings
A Swiss museum says its delighted to receive more than $1 billion worth of paintings from a Nazi-art hoarder, but it also says it has some questions.
Cornelius Gurlitt inherited several paintings, including works by Renoir and Monet, which he kept hidden for decades. Many believe his father, who was Adolf Hitler's art dealer, took the artwork from Jewish families during the Nazi era.
Gurlitt was 81 years old when he died Tuesday. He has no known heirs, so the future of the collection was unknown until now.
Kunstmuseum Bern confirmed Wednesday it was named the "unrestricted and unfettered sole heir" in Gurlitt's will.
The museum was shocked by the donation, given it has no relationship with Gurlitt. In a statement it said, "The Board of Trustees and directors of Kunstmuseum Bern are surprised and delighted, but at the same time do not wish to conceal the fact that this magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical nature."
The collection of more than 1,400 works was seized in 2012 from Gurlitt's apartment for an investigation to determine how many, if any, were stolen by his father. But he was not required to return any because statute of limitations on the German law requiring restitution has expired.
The investigation is ongoing while a court will determine if the will is valid and if a contract of inheritance exists.