Written by Stephanie Rodriguez. Media by Mikey Courtney.
Last year, the news of $1 billion dollars worth of stolen historical art kept in Cornelius Gurlitt’s, apartment in Munich, Germany came to light on November 6, 2013. During the spring of 2011, many of the art pieces stolen by the Nazis were found due to an investigation by Bavarian tax authorities who broke in Gurlitt’s apartment for a suspected tax evasion.
These 1,400 historical artifacts were collected by Hildebrand Gurlitt, father of Cornelius, and an art dealer under the authority of Adolf Hitler, set to be sold to fund the Nazi regime.
Not only have these art pieces been missing for more than 70 years, but thought to have been destroyed during World War II. Within these artifacts of paintings, drawings, and sculptures are creations by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and modern pieces by Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, and Paul Klee to name a few.
Informers have found evidence that one of the 1,400 art pieces is a painting of a woman sitting down, by Matisse that belonged to a French bank but stolen by the Nazis in 1942.
The Nazi historical significance to this is that during the 1930s and 1940s, Adolf Hitler ordered his men to collect the “degenerate art” from the Jewish. Some of the works were taken from Jewish families or sold by them for a low amount of money from the fair value of the art pieces because they wanted to make their escape from the country. The other art pieces were stolen from art galleries museums, and private collections.
This year, in Salzburg, Germany, authorities have found 60 more pieces of art in Gurlitt’s apartment. He put them there because he was concerned that there would be a break in at his house in Munich. The total worth of these newfound pieces has not yet been decided but it contained pieces by Picasso, Renoir, and Monet. Gurlitt has asked for these pieces to be examined by experts as to whether any of them could have been possibly stolen.
This investigation has been an ongoing one for more than 2 years now and because it is news to the rest of the world, Germany is being strongly criticized for keeping this quiet. German authorities have barely released information on this situation and are very general about this, that it has communities like Jewish organizations sitting in frustration.
This has caused an even bigger problem for the country because relatives of the people, who were stolen from, want the paintings to be given back to their original owners. People claiming would have to be in their 80s if not 90s and during the two years it has taken Germany to tell the world about this, people have died. So where does the art go?