A lawyer for the elderly art collector whose works were seized by German police two years ago said Monday that he is in negotiations with six claimants who are seeking items stolen from them or their families by the Nazis.
Hannes Hartung, who represents Cornelius Gurlitt, said the claims cover 3 per cent of the more than 1,400 works authorities confiscated from the collector’s Munich apartment in 2012 – or about 40 pieces.
Mr. Gurlitt’s representatives encouraged further potential claimants to submit their claims through a newly created website. His spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, said the site was meant to “make clear anew our readiness for dialogue – toward the public and toward possible claimants.”
Mr. Hartung said in a statement that Mr. Gurlitt’s case was being treated more harshly than those of other public and private collections in Germany, which may also be in possession of stolen art.
The new website also features a personal statement from Mr. Gurlitt, in which he said: “I only wanted to live with my pictures, in peace and calm.” He complained that some of what has been written about him and the collection is untrue or not entirely true.
The site, which is in English and German, also includes a list of questions and answers setting out Mr. Gurlitt’s position and apparently aimed at fending off claims about the origins of some of the collection.
“Cornelius Gurlitt considers it his duty to preserve and maintain his father’s collection. And yet, Cornelius Gurlitt is open to historic responsibility,” it reads.
Mr. Gurlitt was reluctantly thrust into the media limelight last November when news broke that around 1,400 works by the likes of Picasso, Cezanne and Degas had been discovered in his Munich flat in 2012.
Another 60-odd artworks, including pieces by Monet and Renoir, last week came to light at his Salzburg house.
Mr. Gurlitt is the son of Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, who acquired the paintings in the 1930s and 1940s and had been tasked by the Nazis with selling stolen works and art the Hitler regime deemed “degenerate.”
In addition to raiding private collections, often of Jewish families, top Nazis pillaged German museums as well to sell their works or keep the valuable pieces for themselves.
With reports from Agence France-Presse