must publish list of artworks hoarded by recluse: court
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[February 01, 2014]
By Sarah Marsh
BERLIN (Reuters) — Germany must
publish the full list of artworks found in the flat of an elderly
recluse last year which are mostly believed to have been looted or
extorted by the Nazis, a German court ruled on Friday, citing the
need for transparency in a case long hushed up.
The stash of more than 1,400 paintings, drawings and
sculptures includes works by Picasso, Matisse and German
expressionists Otto Dix and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Authorities
have valued the collection at 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion).
Germany has faced criticism from around the world for failing to
publish the full list of artworks, as well as for keeping silent
for nearly two years about the trove.
Critics say it would be easier to establish the provenance and
rightful ownership of works seized by the Nazis or bought under
duress from Jews fleeing persecution during the Holocaust if
details about them are made public.
"The administrative court of Augsburg has ordered state
prosecutors to give a list of the artworks ... to the reporter
of a daily newspaper," the Bavarian court said in a statement,
referring to the right to information under media law.
A spokesman for the prosecutors said they had already appealed
against the court's ruling and were not planning on publishing
the list until that had been dealt with.
German mass-selling daily Bild said the ruling came after it had
lodged a complaint with the court against the prosecutors for
publishing details about only 442 artworks.
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"The extremely high public interest in this case as
well as above all the special moral dimension make transparency so
important," Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of
Jews in Germany, told Bild.
The artworks hoarded by the war-era art dealer
Hildebrand Gurlitt, put in charge of selling confiscated
"degenerate" art by Adolf Hitler, were found in the Munich apartment
of his reclusive son Cornelius.
Their legal status is ambiguous, nearly 70 years after a war in
which the Nazis plundered hundreds of thousands of art works from
museums and from individuals, most of them Jews.
Gurlitt has demanded his art back and lawyers working on reclaiming
property for heirs to Jewish collectors say he may get to keep at
least some of it.
The Augsburg court said prosecutors must reveal for which artworks
they had already contacted potential owners, although the names of
the latter should not be published out of consideration of their
($1 = 0.7415 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; editing by
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