The paintings, drawings and sculptures were seized from
Cornelius Gurlitt's two homes by authorities investigating
possible tax evasion in February 2012. They include Modernist
and Renaissance masterpieces valued at about 1 billion euros,
according to media reports.
In February, Gurlitt's lawyers had said he had filed a formal
complaint against the seizure of his art collection.
Germany has faced criticism from around the world for failing to
publish immediately the full list of artworks, for keeping
silent for nearly two years about the trove and for potentially
having had no legal right to seize the pieces.
Gurlitt wants to "return all (artworks) that have been stolen or
robbed from Jewish ownership to each of their owners or
descendants," lawyer Christoph Edel was quoted as saying on
Wednesday by Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Authorities made Edel the provisional legal custodian for
Gurlitt, who is in his 80s, after doctors ruled he was too sick
to look after his own business interests.
The first piece to be returned would be a portrait entitled
"Sitting Woman" by Henri Matisse, which belonged to Paris-based
Jewish art collector Paul Rosenberg and was at some point part
of Adolf Hitler's air force chief Hermann Goering's collection
before making it to Gurlitt.
Further works were likely to be returned in the coming weeks,
Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the Norddeutsche Rundfunk and
Westdeutsche Rundfunk radio stations quoted Edel as saying.
Gurlitt inherited the collection from his father, who took
orders from Hitler to buy and sell so-called 'degenerate art' to
fund Nazi activities during World War Two. The son aroused
suspicion in 2010 when German customs officials stopped him on a
train from Switzerland carrying a large sum in cash.
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When authorities raided his Munich apartment in February 2012 on
suspicion of tax evasion, they found the art collection.
The three news outlets also reported that the stash of paintings
seized from Gurlitt's Salzburg home came to 238 pieces, many more
than previously thought.
The latest 180 works of art discovered at the Austrian home include
a Claude Monet oil painting that could be worth 10 million euros,
Austrian TV reported.
The 1903 Monet painting of London's Tower Bridge had until now been
considered missing. A bronze sculpture by Auguste Renoir and
drawings by Gauguin, Cezanne and Picasso are also in the find, it
It said the works found in Salzburg may have been owned by Gurlitt's
grandfather Louis, and thus — unlike other works in Gurlitt's
collection — are not suspected of including art looted by the Nazis.
Under German rules, works acquired from 1933 up to the present day
but created before 1945 can be investigated as Nazi-looted property.
(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; editing by Tom Heneghan)
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