Europe

Gurlitt collection: Hoard of Nazi-era art set for Swiss museum

Couple, a painting by Hans Christoph, Image copyright Handout
Image caption Couple, by Hans Christoph, was one of more than 1,400 artworks found in Cornelius Gurlitt's properties in Germany

A hoard of Nazi-era artwork can be donated to a museum in Switzerland, a court in Germany has ruled.

The paintings and drawings belonged to Cornelius Gurlitt, whose father was an art dealer in Hitler's Germany.

The son died nearly three years ago and left the works to the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern but a relative contested the will.

Works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall feature in the collection.

Some of the pieces are believed to have been stolen from Jewish owners.

Gurtlitt's cousin, Uta Werner, launched the court challenge and staked a claim to the collection.

But the German court rejected her argument, finding insufficient evidence that Gurlitt had not been of sound mind when making the decision.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Henri Matisse's A Woman Sitting In A Chair was found in the collection and was returned to descendants of the owner in 2015

It is thought the collection will go on public display next year.

The Bern museum welcomed the ruling and said it will not keep all the works, just those that "most probably were not looted".

It said it would be working closely with the German government and experts at the German Lost Art Foundation to research the back story of each work and begin restitution cases where applicable.

Gurlitt was known to be a reclusive man, who hid hundreds of works in his homes in the German city of Munich and Austrian city of Salzburg.

His father Hildebrand, as an art dealer for the Nazis, sold works stolen from Jews or confiscated as "degenerate" works.

More than 1,400 works were discovered in 2012 after Gurlitt's apartment was searched in a tax inquiry. Some have already been reunited with their owners and a few have been sold at auction.

Six months before he died, Gurlitt told Der Spiegel magazine, "I haven't loved anything more than my pictures in my life."

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Media captionThe BBC's Stephen Evans got to explore some of the found works in 2014

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