MUNICH – A recent search of a Munich apartment yielded the astonishing discovery of about $1-billion worth of looted art, stolen by the Nazis before and during World War II. German tax authorities found the art after obtaining a search warrant for the home of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of a Munich art dealer, who had bought them during the 1930s and 1940s.
Some 1,500 artworks were uncovered in the home, many by the likes of such Masters as Renoir, Picasso, Matisse and Chagall; as well as German painters Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann and Max Liebermann. The art was found hidden behind old jam jars, cans of beans, fruit and noodles, where it lay hidden for more than half a century. An estimated 200 of the works are known to be missing and under international warrants.
Among the paintings discovered was one by Henri Matisse that had belonged to the Jewish collector Paul Rosenberg. Rosenberg, who fled Paris leaving his collection behind, was the grandfather of Anne Sinclair, the former wife of the disgraced French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
The recently recovered artwork is being stored in a secure Munich warehouse, say reports. Authorities have not yet revealed the artworks as they are working on finding the rightful owners.
Thousands of artworks stolen during the war have been returned to their owners or their descendants, but many more have never resurfaced. In 2007 a German expert published a book on looted art, estimating that thousands of masterpieces and tens of thousands of lesser works had yet to be restored to their rightful owners.