Even for Nazi-looted art, possession is 9/10ths of the law

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hitler artFrom Berlin, circa 21st Century:

The Munich man from whom German authorities confiscated an art trove they believe includes Nazi-looted works broke his silence, saying he isn’t willing to return any of the art to previous owners, including pieces taken from Jews.

“I will not speak with them, and I won’t freely give anything back, no, no,” Cornelius Gurlitt, 80, said to German weekly Der Spiegel of reports that government officials are working to negotiate settlements for many of the works. “When I’m dead they can do with them what they want.”

Mr. Gurlitt’s comments—the first he has made on the wartime art stash discovered in his apartment and his intentions—came after Bavaria’s justice minister, whose office is overseeing the investigation, said Friday he hoped to reach a settlement with Mr. Gurlitt to avoid a lengthy legal fight and expedite restitution.

Bavarian officials took the more than 1,400 works of art, including masterpieces by Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Otto Dix, from Mr. Gurlitt’s apartment in early 2012 as part of a tax investigation…

Even in Germany, the state has the burden to disprove ownership, even of Nazi-looted art before they can take property in possession of another, no matter how many international treaties they have signed. Gurlitt is an art lover that was only a 12-year-old when German surrendered to Allied Forces in 1945, thus ending WWII.



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