On July 7th, Swiss media were invited by the Kunstmuseum Bern to have a look at the first batch of works from the Gurlitt art trove.
The selection of works presented to the press comprised some of the most famous artists of the “Degenerated Art”. Amongst them : Emil Nolde, Otto Dix, Franz Marc, August Macke, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
These works will be displayed in a dedicated exhibition starting Nov.1 at the Kunstmuseum Bern, titled “Degenerate Art, Confiscated and Sold”. And in Bonn, Germany, will simultaneously be on display another part of the collection, exhibited under the title “Nazi Art Theft and its consequences”.
In the meantime, the works which arrived at the Kunstmuseum Bern will be inventoried, inspected and restored before being exhibited. Some of them, improperly stored over the years present traces of mould.
The Gurlitt art trove was Summer 2013’s sensation. In 2010, Cornelius Gurlitt, a reclusive 76 years old German citizen, was routinely checked by customs authorities on his way back from Switzerland to Germany. As he was not properly registered in Germany and had no declared source of revenue, yet was carrying 9’000 € cash, he arouse suspicion of tax evasion. A search warrant executed in 2012 led to the discovery in his Munich flat of ca.1400 works of art, totalling an amount of 1 billion €.
Cornelius Gurlitt, only son of Second World War dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, had inherited from his father and was living from punctual sales of artworks. He never admitted that the artworks were of looted origin (nor did his father).
According to the German Authorities, it is confirmed that nearly 400 items of the collection are issued from spoliations. A further 600 works are under investigation and might turn as looted art.
In 2014, right before his death, he surprisingly bequeathed the collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern. The Museum has accepted the legs, pending that the works entering the museum have been confirmed as not looted. These works are the ones presented to the press last week. A further 300 will join the collections of the Kunstmuseum over the summer. The remains of the Gurlitt trove remain in Germany, pending provenance research and restitution to their rightful owners if looted.