Nazi art hoarder dies

"Cornelius Gurlitt, the 81-year-old German recluse accused of hoarding hundreds of artworks looted by the Nazis, has died." via the Telegraph

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  1. Did he look into the ark?

  2. At least his place was tidier than those hoarders who end up buried in old newspapers and cat feces.

  3. KarlS says:

    The Art Museum in Bern (Switzerland) has inherited the whole collection. Since Gurlitt is dead the confiscation and the whole criminal case have evaporated, but the museum is still bound by his agreement to investigate the potentially problematic part of the collection.

    Of course the idea of a second generation Third Reich profiteer losing his bounty is emotionally satisfying and I can see why especially the anglophone press was mostly happy to leave it at that, but the conduct of the prosecution in this case was seriously problematic. Even if it seems likely that a substantial minority of the collection was acquired under morally objectionable circumstances (although that hasn't even been established so far) any claims that he is not the legal owner have always been rather tenuous.

  4. KarlS says:

    The problematic part is how what started out as a reasonable suspicion of tax evasion escalated to the confiscation of the whole collection. For more than three years no charges were filed. Son of a nazi profiteer or not, it isn't good policy to confiscate first and ask questions later. A hunch that moral or legal problems with the provenance of some part of the collection may emerge further down the road is not the best justification.

    Of course the realities of post-dictatorial legislation are often ugly and thoroughly unsatisfying, but it is dangerous to let standards slip whenever it feels right.

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