Gurlitt Collection: Germany's most infamous Nazi-looted art trove
So far, only 14 works were proven to have been looted under the Nazis among the some 1,500 found in Gurlitt's hoard.
Carl Spitzweg, 'Playing the Piano,' ca. 1840
This drawing by Carl Spitzweg was seized in 1939 from Jewish music publisher Heinri Hinrichsen, who was killed at the Auschwitz death camp in 1942. It was acquired by Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt — and later found among the spectacular collection of works hoarded by his son, Cornelius Gurlitt. The work was auctioned by Christie's at the request of Hinrichsen's heirs.
Max Beckmann, 'Zandvoort Beach Cafe,' 1934
The watercolor by the Jewish painter Max Beckmann entered Gurlitt's collection only in 1945. Held by the allied occupation forces at the Central Collecting Point in Wiesbaden from 1945-1950, it was returned to Hildebrand Gurlitt in 1950. Before working for the Nazi regime, Gurlitt had collected and exhibited modern art, curating Beckmann's last exhibition in 1936 before the artist fled Germany.
Otto Griebel, 'Veiled Woman,' 1926
This work was owned by lawyer and art collector Fritz Salo Glaser. Artists of Dresden's avant-garde scene were his guests in the 1920s — as was the young Hildebrand Gurlitt. It is not known how Gurlitt came to possess the painting. It was confiscated in 1945 and later returned. Of Jewish heritage, Glaser only narrowly avoided deportation to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1945.
Claude Monet, 'Waterloo Bridge,' 1903
This painting by the famous impressionist is not suspected to have been looted. The artist sold it to the Durand Ruel Gallery in 1907. The Jewish art merchant and publisher Paul Cassirer is said to have given it to Marie Gurlitt as a present, and she left it to her son Hildebrand Gurlitt in 1923.
Thomas Couture, 'Portrait of a Seated Young Woman,' 1850
A short handwritten note allowed provenance researchers to identify this work by the French painter as a looted work of art. The picture was seized from the collection of Jewish politician and resistance leader Georges Mandel, who was executed by French fascists near Paris in 1944. German Culture Minister Monika Grütters (right) handed over the work to Mandel's heirs in January 2019.
Paul Signac, 'Quai de Clichy,' 1887
The activist group Provenance Research Gurlitt identified this painting by French neo-impressionist Paul Signac as stolen Jewish property in October 2018. Gaston Prosper Levy fled Nazi-occupied France in 1940. Occupying soldiers are believed to have looted his art collection shortly before his escape. The painting was returned to Levy's family in 2019.
Auguste Rodin, 'Crouching Woman,' approx. 1882
Hildebrand Gurlitt must have acquired this work by the French sculptor between 1940 and 1945. Previously belonging to the Frenchman Eugene Rudier, it entered circulation in 1919 at an auction by Octave Henri Marie Mirbeau, who is said to have received it as a present from the artist.
Albrecht Dürer, Knight, Death and Devil, 1513
This copper engraving by Albrecht Dürer once belonged to the Falkeisen-Huber Gallery in Basel. It is not known how it got there or how long it was there however. In 2012 the engraving turned up in Cornelius Gurlitt's collection. "Old masters" like Dürer were very important to the National Socialists' view of art and were often exploited for propaganda.
Edvard Munch, 'Ashes II,' 1899
The provenance of this drawing is completely unknown. It is certain, however, that Hitler considered Norwegian artist Edvard Munch's work "degenerate art." Some 82 pieces by Munch were confiscated in German museums in 1937.
Francois Boucher, 'Male Nude,' undated
Hitler venerated 18th-century French painting. He secured exceptional paintings for his own collection by targeting the collection of the Rothschild Family after the annexation of Austria. Hildebrand Gurlitt supplemented them with drawings by renowned French painters. He acquired this work by Boucher from a Parisian art merchant in 1942.
In Gurlitt's apartment
Cornelius Gurlitt hoarded the sculpture along with many other artworks for decades in his Munich apartment. Before his death in 2014, he consented to have his stocks researched and — should they include articles of stolen art — have them returned to their rightful owners in accordance with the Washington Principles on Nazi-looted art.