Gurlitt appeals German authorities′ seizure of rare art | News | DW | 19.02.2014
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Gurlitt appeals German authorities' seizure of rare art

Lawyers for a German collector have appealed the seizure of works of art from his Munich apartment. Among paintings and drawings from artists such as Pablo Picasso and Edvard Munch was Henri Matisse's "Sitting Woman."

In a statement released Wednesday, Cornelius Gurlitt's spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, said lawyers had filed the complaint last week at an Augsburg court. The collector's lawyers argue that tax authorities’ seizure of the massive Gurlitt trove was disproportionate.

"In light of the immense public interest and political debate, we have a reasonable concern about the legality of this process," defense attorney Derek Setz said on Wednesday.

A court ordered tax investigation in 2011 led to the 2012 search of Gurlitt's home, where authorities found more than 1,400 works of art. Gurlitt's lawyers have questioned the relevance of the works as evidence of the collector's alleged tax evasion.

Officials have also looked into whether Nazis had confiscated 458 of the works found in Gurlitt's apartment, but they plan to return any art belonging indisputably to the collector. The 81-year-old's lawyers say they have also begun negotiations with six claimants seeking about 40 of the works. Though the search had occurred in 2012, Gurlitt's case first became public last November, reported by the weekly German magazine Focus.

Last week, Austrian authorities searching Gurlitt's Salzburg second residence found an additional 60 works there. On February 17, Gurlitt launched a website to explain the provenance of the art.

As demand for more transparency in the quest for Nazi-looted art has grown, a British museum plans to publish an online list of works stolen in 1941-42.

mkg/mz (dpa, AP)