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Culture

Art Collector's Heirs Loan Masterpieces to Berlin

Berlin's celebrated arts scene got richer this week when deceased collector Heinz Berggruen's heirs said they were loaning the city over 50 works from his collection, including paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Klee.

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Heinz Berggruen's art collection is considered one of the most important worldwide

The masterpieces will be displayed at the Berggruen Museum in Berlin, which is located opposite the baroque Schloss Charlottenburg and is a major draw on the German capital's arts and museum circuit. In return, the Berlin government is donating a building neighboring the museum to house the artworks.

"My family supports the idea that the Berggruen Museum will be expanded," Nicolas Berggruen, son and heir of the collector Heinz Berggruen, who passed away in February, told the Berliner Zeitung paper this week.

Nicolas Berggruen has indicated that he may also show some of the artworks he has collected himself in Berlin. At the beginning of the 1990s, he began buying works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.

And, he said he would like to support young artists. "When I find the right place and the right building, I would like to create a collection of contemporary works," he said.

Gesture of reconcilliation

Kunstsammler Heinz Berggruen gestorben

Berggruen initially opened a gallery in Paris

Nicolas Berggruen's father, Heinz, was a German-born Jewish art collector. He forgave the country which persecuted him, and in 1996, brought his collection "Picasso and His Era" to Berlin on loan.

He then sold it to the city, his birthplace, for a fraction of its market value in 2000. The collection is housed in the Berggruen Museum near the city's Schloss Charlottenburg.

The mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, said earlier this year that Berggruen's decision to transfer the majority of his extensive modern art collection back to Berlin in 1996 was "an extraordinary gesture of reconciliation."

Berggruen died in Paris in February at the age of 93.

In 1936, he fled Nazi Germany, heading first to the United States and then to Paris. There, he established a reputation as a gallery owner who was firm friends with Pablo Picasso. He was also a specialist on the works of artists such as Van Gogh, Cézanne and Paul Klee.

Heinz Berggruen's artworks are considered to be one of the most important private collections of modern art in the world.

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