(source here) A random background check designed to expose money-launderers travelling to Switzerland has uncovered a treasure trove of modern art thought to have been destroyed in Nazi Germany.
Customs officials seized the haul of 1,500 works including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Marc Chagall from the Munich flat of an elderly man suspected of hiding his wealth in Swiss banks.
|Hitler art by Noma Bar|
The stash of paintings was found stacked in the flat of Cornelius Gurlitt, 80, the son of a prominent Munich art dealer, who is believed to have acquired the paintings during the 1930s and 1940s.
The appartment block in Munich where the stash of paintings was found was an associate of the Nazi leadership who is thought to have acquired works deemed “degenerate” that had largely been seized from Jewish collectors.
His surviving son had apparently kept the collection in his home and is thought to have sold off some of the works as a means of support.
One of the best pieces in the collection is Portrait of a Lady by Matisse that once belonged to Paul Rosenburg, the grandfather of Anne Sinclair, the former wife of the disgraced head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Miss Sinclair has been a prominent campaigner for the return of art looted by the Nazis to their former owners. Rosenburg lost his own collection when he fled for his life during the fall of Paris.
Germany’s Focus magazine reported Gurlitt’s son was stopped on a train to Swizerland in 2010 carrying 9,000 euros in cash during a sweep by the authorities against Germans with undeclared bank accounts across the border.
A follow-up search of Gurlitt’s home uncovered an unimageable stash of artworks hoarded behind tins and packets of food. One official said the works were now worth more than one billion euros....
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