Swiss museum to accept ‘Nazi art’

[BBC] – Switzerland’s Bern Art Museum has agreed to accept hundreds of artworks bequeathed by German Nazi-era art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt.

But a museum spokesman said pieces looted by the Nazis in World War Two would not be permitted in the museum.

Mr Gurlitt, the son of Adolf Hitler’s art dealer, had for years hidden works by artists including Picasso and Monet.

Around 500 works are expected to remain in Germany until their rightful owners can be identified.

Three pieces – by Max Liebermann, Henri Matisse and Carl Spitzweg – will be returned immediately, German officials say.

But it is unclear how reassured other families who had their paintings looted by the Nazis will feel about Monday’s announcement, says BBC News arts editor Will Gompertz.

Neither Germany nor Switzerland has a particularly glowing track record in the field of returning looted art, our correspondent adds.

‘Historic burden’

The Bavarian authorities seized some 1,280 artworks from Mr Gurlitt’s Munich flat as part of a tax evasion probe in February 2012.

The find, which was not made public until November last year, has triggered legal disputes surrounding works taken illegally by the Nazis.

Mr Gurlitt died in May aged 81 having named the Bern museum as his “sole heir”.

Christoph Schaeublin, president of board of trustees of the Bern Art Museum, told a news conference in Berlin on Monday that the museum would accept the bequest.

But “no work suspected of being looted” would enter the museum, he said.

The museum pledged to work with German authorities to ensure that “all looted art in the collection is returned” to its rightful owners.

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