Nazi art collector had second will

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iol news pic Gurlitt Nazi art collector

REUTERS

The house of art collector Cornelius Gurlitt is pictured in Salzburg. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler

Munich - The reclusive art collector who kept a stash of artworks at his Munich apartment for decades left a second will before his death this month, a German court said Tuesday.

Cornelius Gurlitt had in a first will named the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, Switzerland as a heirs of his collection of masterpieces, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Franz Marc, Paul Klee and Max Beckmann.

A court in Munich confirmed that he had left a second will. The court withheld the identities of heirs in both wills. It said the wills were issued on January 9 and February 21.

Gurlitt's father Hildebrand, a prominent Nazi-era art dealer, is believed to have put together the collection of some 1 400 pieces, some of which are believed to have been looted by the Nazis.

Gerhard Zierl, the president of the court, said that any German heirs would have six weeks to claim the inheritance, while foreign heirs would have to do so within six months.

The collection is in the custody of the German government and some of it is subject to restitution claims. Police are working under the assumption that 458 of the artworks were looted by the Nazis. Gurlitt's lawyers had only said 40 of the works were under suspicion.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern has yet to decide whether or not to accept the works. Its board of directors and trustees is looking into the extent of the legal and financial burden the collection would bring.

The collection has been valued at about 1 billion euros (1.4 billion dollars).

Gurlitt died earlier this month at the age of 81. Shortly before his death, he agreed with the German authorities that the majority of the collection would be returned to him pending an investigation of art experts into whether the works were looted or stolen by the Nazis.

Sapa-dpa


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